We need to start starting later

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Visual depiction of a student sleeping in a learning environment due to a lack of sleep.(Tapasparida/Flickr).

Brett Burstiner, Staff Writer

Students in our modern day education system are negatively affected by their lack of sleep. By “negatively affected”, I’m talking about the lack of focus students experience when they have an absence of sleep. This has been well-documented by researchers

For example, in an article by Jim Davis from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he states that “In a recent survey, we found an alarming write-in from one of our students: ‘I can’t read/write/think straight, I haven’t had more than five hours of sleep this week.’…  This young student, 14 years old at the time, was doing everything in her power to succeed, not recognizing that those extra hours of study were inhibiting her ability to perform, all while setting the table for the unfortunate health outcomes mentioned above. In the name of self-enhancement, students are sacrificing self-preservation.” 

This really shows just how brutal and damaging our education system is when it comes to looking out for students mental and physical health. At 14, students shouldn’t be burdened by the same lack of sleep adults get when working 9-5 jobs. Students at this age should be happy when it comes to school and should also have free time to enjoy their social lives and do things that bring them joy, like engaging in hobbies and spending time with friends. 

I interviewed Sammy Rubin, a fellow student at Weber, who is a strong advocate for the improvement of working habits of students. When asked about how much sleep he gets per night, he said “If I have a lot of homework, I normally go to sleep at like 1 [AM] or 2 [AM], but if I don’t have homework, I go to sleep at 11 [PM].” I then asked whether or not he is tired during the day, to which he replied, “Yes, for sure. I’ve gotten better recently, I’ve gotten more sleep, but when I wasn’t getting more sleep, I would fall asleep in class and miss important information from teachers.” When asked about whether or not a lack of sleep inhibits his ability to learn and be productive, he stated, “Yes, because I can’t focus on the work and instead, I’m focusing on the fact that I didn’t sleep, and wishing that I had slept.” I also asked him if he thought it would be beneficial to start school later in order for students like him to get more sleep. He replied, “I don’t think it would be good for our school because we start later anyway, but it would be good in general for all schools that start early. The amount of work students receive can sometimes be unbearable, so starting school later can prove only to be beneficial.” 

As this first-hand account suggests, the early start times are brutal when it comes to the amount of sleep that students get on a daily basis. It is crucial that we make changes to the school schedule to reduce the negative effects students feel on a day to day basis. A later start time would improve learning and increase engagement in the classroom.