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Late to Bed, Early to Rise

Starting school so early has its problems for students

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Jack Puckett, Staff Writer

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According to the National Sleep Foundation, an average teen should be getting eight to ten hours of sleep a night. Also, according to this same foundation, only about 15 percent of teens are getting this desired sleep time.

And this is problematic for their development as students. Simply, it’s time to ask this very important question: Does school start too early?

ICE and class at Ralston Valley High School starts at the same time: 7:25 a.m.

It is commonly recommended to be at school around 7:15 a.m. or before. It all depends on how much time a student takes to prepare for school, and actually get to school, but in order to get the recommended eight and a half hours of sleep, this requires students to go to sleep around 10:00 p.m.

However, many students take part in activities outside of school whether that is a club, a sport, a job, or other such hobbies.

If school ends at 3:00 p.m. as is does now, a short practice or other activity may last from about 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

After this, students need to eat a dinner. Rushing this takes the time to about 6:30 p.m.

Finally, students have time to do their homework until 10:00 p.m.

Easier said than done, however.

After reviewing this hypothetical student’s schedule one might forget that most students would like to take part in other things. If this is the schedule everyone were to follow, the only time for students to do anything, not academically related, would be the early half of the weekend.

There is a myriad of research that has gone into proving that students need more sleep.

A Swedish study found that less sleep directly influenced one’s grade. A Northwestern University study found that students perform better during the afternoon than the morning. Kyla Wahlstrom, a director at the University of Minnesota, concluded that schools with later start times had a positive trend in grades across the board.

Obviously, students would generally benefit from a later start time, and change is very possible, as seen in Seattle Public Schools.

Seattle Public Schools has seen these facts and in turn did something about it. High schools in the Seattle district now start their day at 8:45 a.m.  After several years of parents and teachers repeatedly presenting their persuasive case and any solutions to its problems to the school boards, it was finally put into place in 2016.

One of Ralston Valley’s closest neighbors, Arvada West, has put into place an 8:00 a.m start time. Although it isn’t as dramatic a change as it occurred in Seattle, it is progress.

Ben Siracuse, an Arvada West student said, “[Compared to last year], I can definitely say the extra sleep helps.”

Siracuse said that even though he still is tired in the morning, it takes him less time to fully awaken.

In Jefferson County, the majority of schools have varying class start times throughout the week.

Most schools have a constant start time with a advisement period, similar to Ralston Valley.

Arvada West, in contrast, has a constant class start time. Standley Lake, Lakewood, Evergreen, Bear Creek and Arvada also have constant start times but all start early.

Standley Lake and Bear Creek start the earliest in the district at 7:15 a.m. Students attending these schools are most susceptible to sleep deprivation.

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