School Hours Harm Teenage Brains
Starting school before the sun rises is damaging adolescents’ cognition, causing them to perform poorly in terms of academics. Whether their parents put pressure on them, or they have a successful future in their minds, grades are the most important factor in many teenagers’ lives. Though, learning requires memorization and comprehension – two skills that are weakened by sleep deprivation. Regardless, the American education system fails to consider their students’ best interests and insists on beginning as early as six-thirty in the morning. Increasing the amount of sleep young people receive would lead to an improvement in grades which would result in a more efficient working class. With that said, beginning classes later in the day would not only boost school districts across the country’s statistics but also benefit the economy in the long run.
Memorizing information is a key factor of education and is extremely dependent on healthy sleep habits. Expecting somebody whose school schedule prevents than from obtaining their recommended hours of sleep to perform appropriately, let alone exceptionally, in terms of memory is extremely unreasonable. This is because, as researched by William DS Killgore and stated in his article Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Cognition, “Sleep is important following learning to facilitate the consolidation and integration of newly learned information into existing memory structures,” and therefore a lack of it, “[…] may impair the acquisition of new memories.” The knowledge that is gained while a person is sleep-deprived will be significantly more difficult for them to retain than it would have been had they arrived properly rested. Chances are, they will be unable to remember their day at school altogether.
The regions of the brain, such as the temporal lobe, that aid in memory processing are harmed by insomnolence. Killgore performed a study where he compared a wide-awake bunch of participants’ to an exhausted group’s ability to recall a series of scenic photographs. His findings proved that “the sleep-deprived group showed significantly less activation of the posterior hippocampus relative to the normally rested group.” If a majority of high school students are dozing off, their minds are not working properly. Many children are incapable of going to bed at suitable times to guarantee they receive their recommended hours of sleep, whether this is due to sports, family issues, anxiety, or other deliberating priorities, therefore they are at an unfair disadvantage. Their grades are not accurate representations of their intelligence if they are not reflecting their full potential.
Teenagers are biologically prone to stay awake throughout the late hours of the night, not to mention, littered with endless external distractions. Because of this, there are no possible methods of ensuring they will fall asleep at a time that is beneficial to their health. As long as children have activities to participate in or personal manners to tend to, the limited amount of time they possess succeeding the school day will permanently be occupied. They can not be expected to rid everything that brings them joy all in favor of public education.
On the topic of personal manners, the unfortunate reality is that many children are members of unstable families. The stressors occurring in their homes may not only serve as a distraction from homework and studying but could also make them even more tired. While those who would be considered highly involved parents would, “motivate their children to higher engagement in their academic,” according to data discovered in a study conducted by Yun Mo and Kusum Singh, people with less attentive parents may be forced to do a lot of cleaning around the house, have to babysit their siblings, or deal with emotional damage after the school day is over. Delaying the beginning of classes by a couple of hours would provide them with the option to stay up as late as they usually have to in order to finish their homework, while simultaneously supplying them with enough time to rest. School districts must consider how their schedules function for every student of theirs and that an early-morning rise may not be beneficial to those who are struggling.
In this day and age, the same technology that prevents students from drifting to sleep is becoming essential in order to live a normal life. In the research essay written by a large group of authors titled What’s Keeping Teenagers Up? Prebedtime Behaviors and Actigraphy-Assessed Sleep Over School and Vacation, it is mentioned that “those with access [to technology] in bedrooms use these devices more and have later BT and shorter total sleep time on weekdays,” when compared to children who did not. Many would assume that the simple solution would be to prevent them from texting or watching television completely. Though, because most children are members of social media platforms and various group chats, teenagers without phones are alienated from their peers. It is unethical to force them to choose between their academic and social lives, plus beyond school districts’ authority. These facts considered, starting school later in the morning would give them the leeway to use their phones as late as they are used to, as well as get enough sleep at the same time.
The advantages that come with starting school at later hours in the morning outweigh any negatives that may coincide, which is the reason why so many psychologists recommend this shift. Children are prone to staying up at night for many reasons, from sorting out their family issues to bonding with their peers online, that are out of their school district’s hands. The human brain requires a satisfactory amount of rest to function properly. So many adolescents today are damaging their mental-processing skills in an attempt to abide by schools’ unreasonable wake-up policies. If high schools would like to see a jump in not only the grades and performance of their students but also in their health, they would step up and make a change for the better.
Harbard, Emily, et al. “What’s Keeping Teenagers up? Prebedtime Behaviors and Actigraphy-Assessed Sleep over School and Vacation.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 58, no. 4, 2016, pp. 426–432., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.12.011.
Killgore, William D.S. “Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Cognition.” Progress in Brain Research, 2010, pp. 105–129., https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-444-53702-7.00007-5.
Mo, Yun, and Kusum Singh. “Parents’ Relationships and Involvement: Effects on Students’ School Engagement and Performance.” RMLE Online, vol. 31, no. 10, 2008, pp. 1–11., https://doi.org/10.1080/19404476.2008.11462053.