Adolescents and Sleep-Deprivation: Should High School Classes Start Later?

Adolescents and Sleep-Deprivation: Should High School Classes Start Later?

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Seventeen-year-old Jilly Dos Santos (a student of Rock Bridge High School) struggled every morning to be at school for 7:50 a.m. Rushing to put on makeup, skipping breakfast, and being tardy was common for Jilly. “I will die…I will drop out of school” claimed Jilly when she found out that the school board was considering moving the start of the school day 30 minutes earlier (Hoffman 2). Jilly became a sleep activist because she knew that, biologically, adolescents go to bed and wake up later.
Mary Carskadon, considered to be an expert on sleep and circadian rhythms of adolescents, claims that adolescents should receive about 9 hours of sleep a night (Onyper). Many students suffer from sleep-deprivation due to alterations in the peak times of melatonin production, a hormone directly involved in sleepiness, and personal schedules, which affects the body in various ways (Nathan). For example, sleep-deprivation lowers levels of leptin, which is the main hormone involved in the regulation of appetite, thus increasing the chance of overeating (Spiegel). It also increases the chances of depression and affects the levels of cortisol, a toxic hormone induced by stress (Bergland). I believe that classes for 13-21 year-olds should start later because it would result in adolescents sleeping more, performing better in school, and reduce health risks.
Based on evidence that adolescents need more sleep, psychologists are starting to believe that schools start too early. Let us say that a school starts classes at 7:30a.m. Students would have to wake up around 6 in order to have the time necessary to get dressed, eat breakfast, and make it to school by 7:30. In order for adolescents to get at least 9 hours of sleep, they would have to go to ...


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Hoffman, Jan. “To Keep Teenagers Alert, Schools Let Them Sleep In.” New York Times. 13 Mar 2014: n.p. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
Nathan, Nila, and Jamie Zeitzer. "A Survey Study Of The Association Between Mobile Phone Use And Daytime Sleepiness In California High School Students." BMC Public Health 13.1 (2013): 1-5. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
Oynper, Serge. “Class Start Times, Sleep, and Academic Performance in College: A Path Analysis.” Chronobiology International. 15.1 (2012): 318-324. EBSCO. Web. 4th Feb. 2014.
Pejovic, Slobodanka, et al. “Leptin And Hunger Levels In Young Healthy Adults After One Night Of Sleep Loss.” Journal Of Sleep Research 19.4 (2010): 552-558. Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
Spiegel, Karine. “ The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Hormones and Metabolism.” Medscape.org. n.p. August 2005. Web. 13 April 2014.

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