The Case for a Later Start to the School Day

If you are  high school student at Seattle Academy, you have a lot on your plate. From homework to sports, to theatre, to art, SAAS students do it all. This, of course, is something on which the school prides itself. However, with all the activities SAAS students have going for them, when is there time to sleep? The truth is, with all the extracurriculars and homework, students aren’t getting enough sleep to be fully productive and healthy during the day. Having a later start time is a possible solution.

According to sleep experts, adolescents need roughly nine hours of sleep because sleep cycles for teens usually span from about 11 p.m. to 8 a.m.  Currently, most students report that they get anywhere from 6 to 8 hours of sleep, with a smaller percentage of students getting less or more (Start School Later, 2017). 

With this type of sleep schedule, students are at risk of health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular problems, eating disorders, diabetes, reduced immunity, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, mood swings, behavior problems, suicidal ideation, and potential impacts on brain development. With a change in start time, SAAS students would have a decreased risk of encountering these issues.

In addition to making students healthier and happier, a later start would also improve students’ academic success. Sleep deprivation hinders learning, attention, and memory. According to McKeever, P. M., Clark, L. 2017, schools that have delayed their start times have seen significant overall improvements to the academic performance of their students.  Teachers at these schools have noted the changes in classroom atmosphere, reporting students to be less moody, more alert, more focused, and less likely to sleep in class.

Let’s look at what we know. Students that attend schools with later start times are not only healthier and at decreased risk of health issues, but they are also more academically successful and more engaged in class. With a later start time, SAAS students would also be more likely to earn scholarships from colleges because of the overall increased academic performance. We strongly urge SAAS to delay their start times.