Should school start later?

Sleep-deprived, caffeine-dependent balls of stress. We snooze in class, doze off during homework, and sleep in past noon on weekends.

These are the words that describe the stereotypical modern teenager. With sleep deprivation becoming more prevalent among teens thanks to early school start times, this stereotype is only becoming more accurate.
I feel the effects of Broughton’s 7:25 a.m. start time every day. Over time I have discovered that nine hours of sleep is ideal for me. This fits within the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendation of 8-10 hours of sleep for teenagers.
Thanks to our school district’s absurdly early start time for high schools, I wake up around 6:10 a.m. This means to hit my optimal nine hours, I have to fall asleep by 9:00 – an incredible feat with clubs, sports, and a heavy homework load.
Even when I finish my work early and go to bed by nine, I often don’t feel tired enough to fall asleep until 10 or 11 p.m., even if I’ve felt sleepy all day.
Research shows there is science behind our natural tendencies to go to bed late and sleep in.
“It’s all about the circadian rhythm. In psychology, we talked about how high school students specifically are more likely to wake up later in the day than kids of a younger age. I mean, I have a little brother who wakes up really early naturally, and then I wake up at 10,” senior Ren Markey said.
A circadian rhythm is an animal’s natural rhythm of going to sleep and waking up, based on the production of melatonin – a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of sleepiness. In teenagers, our rhythm is naturally pushed back, making us wide awake in the evening and drowsy in the morning.
By further increasing teen sleep deprivation, this shift in circadian rhythm is also worsening psychological problems like depression and anxiety by decreasing students’ attention span, hurting our short term memory and causing thousands of fatal car crashes.
In fact, a poll in 2008 from the National Sleep Foundation found that a whopping 36% of drivers are drowsy or even doze off while driving. That’s a pretty terrifying statistic.
There was a time in the early 2000s when Broughton recognized the issue and switched bus schedules with a middle school so students could get more sleep. Start time for Broughton was 8 a.m.
Now Wake Country runs a two-tiered bus system, forcing high schools to start earlier so the buses can pick up elementary kids in time for school.
This is pretty ironic, considering that older kids actually need more sleep and younger kids naturally wake up earlier.
So clearly there is a problem here. What can we do? The best way to advocate for change is to let our voices be heard. Dropping notes in the complaint locker near the front door of Broughton is a good start. Writing decision makers such as the superintendent, governor and mayor can also affect change.
The Wake County School School Board makes the ultimate decision.
“In Denmark it’s illegal for school to start before 8 in the morning, and they’re one of the happiest nations,” junior Abby Malach.
Let’s be like Denmark. Let’s rethink high school start times.