The Kids are All Tired: Sleep Deprivation at NAHS

Digital alarm clock with clipping path

by Joshua Mendez

North Attleboro High School students are currently undergoing a health issue: sleep deprivation. In order to combat this issue, the start time of the school day for NAHS should be pushed back to fit our busy schedules.

According to Joe Pinsker from The Atlantic, the average high school start time in America is 7:59 AM. NAHS starts a whopping 44 minutes earlier than this at 7:15 AM.

However, this earlier start time doesn’t mean an earlier bedtime for North students. Like any high school students, we tend to fall asleep later due to a variety of reasons: all the extracurricular activities,the homework we accumulate throughout the day, and our biological hard-wiring.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best.” Since we naturally fall asleep at around 11:00 pm, waking up for 7:15  interrupts our biological sleep patterns by cutting the required 8-10 hours down to 6 or 7. This lack of sleep hinders our ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems. This makes the school day much more difficult to get through.

Many people at NAHS agree that our schedule needs to change.

“If the start time of school was pushed back at least half of an hour to an hour later, it would make a big difference,” said North senior Henry Bosland. “This would benefit us students because a later start time enables us to be more awake in the beginning of the day, have a better attitude, and be able to perform better in our academics.”

Even some teachers agree that our school’s start time is too early.

“When I was first interviewing for my job, I agreed to come in at the start of first period,” said English teacher Mrs. Violette. “When I asked Mr. Johnson what time the day started, he said 7:15 and I laughed, thinking he was joking. I had truly never heard of a school day starting as early as 7:15–when I was in high school, my day started at 8:10. Even that felt early at the time, but I realize now that I was lucky to have such a ‘late’ start.”

Despite outspoken supporters of a schedule change, some students think that the start of the school day should not be pushed back. NAHS sophomore Aakash Sunkari states, ”I think we are already accustomed to the early start of the school day and especially if you do sports, you already have barely enough time to do your homework by the time you get home and settled down.”

Despite the differing opinions of some at NAHS, science supports the idea of a later start time, which would allow students more sleep. Sleep is food for the brain. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is just as important to good health as eating well or exercising. During sleep, important body functions and brain activity occur.

Skipping sleep can be harmful, especially when behind the wheel. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are more prone to getting into an accident.

A new study confirms that lack of sleep in teens increases the chances getting into an accident. According to LiveScience, “drivers ages 17 to 24 who reported sleeping six or fewer hours per night were about 20 percent more likely to be involved in a car crash.”

Having a later start time is not about allowing students to just “be lazy” or to “sleep in”: studies have proven that we will be healthier–and safer–with a later start time. We need to follow these studies in order to make the students at NAHS healthier, just like we have changed the food that we offer in our cafeteria while limiting the availability of junk food in the school store.  

If the upper echelons of NAHS really care for their students, then they should consider pushing back the start time of the school day.

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