By Makaila Grein
WARNING: There is discussion of mental health issues and struggles in this passage. If you are struggling please contact someone and read cautiously.
The age-old question, are schools hurting their students? A question wondered by students, doctors, and even parents. Has your child ever came home and they looked so exhausted they have dark circles the size of soft balls? Have you ever wondered why? Well here is the answer to that. 73% of students get only seven to seven and a half hours of sleep which is not enough for an active teenager. Schools start too early for students to do their piles of homework and get to bed at a decent time to get enough sleep. 75% of middle and high school start before 8:30 which according to the CDC is too early. While going through puberty the chemical in your brain that makes you feel sleepy, melatonin, kicks in later in the night. Puberty usually happens during middle and high school, which has an earlier starting time than elementary school, messing up students sleep rhythms. In the 2015-16 school year over seven million students missed fifteen or more days of school. There was also a study conducted by the University of Washington that showed when school times are pushed back to a more natural and comfortable wake-up time, students have improved grades and attendance. Students who get less sleep will preform worse academically. On top of that adolescents who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight, not want to do physical activity, suffer from symptoms of depression, and lastly are more likely to engage in risky behavior like smoking. Academic stress can also increase the likelihood of showing signs of depression. Starting school at a later time has many benefits for students including a 12% increase in students making good academic progress and getting better grades. The worst part of not getting enough sleep as a teenager is the mental health declines that students could experience. According to a study conducted by the American College Health Association every night of insufficient sleep increases the risk of experiencing mental health issues. Depressed mood increases by 21%, anxiety 25% desire to self-harm 25%, functional problems 28%, and suicide ideation is a whopping 28%. Its a serious problem when students don’t get enough sleep in the first place, but when suicide ideation is the highest percentage it’s an even worse problem. Another factor that could add on to that is that one in every five students get bullied and 54% of them will not tell an adult out of fear. Fear of not being believed or the fear of it getting worse when there should be no fear factors whatsoever. Students need to stop living in fear! Students need more sleep! There are many studies that show the benefits of starting school at a later time. Its easier for students to wake up at a more natural time, students perform better academically, students are less stressed and less likely to miss school. The list goes on, we have the opportunity to make a change, to lower the absences, to lower the percentages. Make a change! We can fight against topics that are hurting our society, more specifically our teenagers.