I Want More Sleep: The discussion of school start times.


David Gibson, Staffer

I don’t know about all of you, but there are days where I wake up five minutes before I have to get up and leave the house. Okay, I’m lying, that’s nearly every day. It’s difficult to get up for people like me who have to work a part-time job and balance it with academics. I’m not complaining because I decided to work part-time, but some people need to because it helps their family. There are other ways to run a school, preferably one that started later.


Look at Finland; for example, Finland starts school at 9- 9:45 and only works until 2:00 or 2:30. Now they end at about the same time that Mariner does, but they start school at about an hour later than Mariner does! And Finland is recognized for its superior education system; it’s not ranked #1 officially but, surveys from edsys.com explains that “Finland managed to perform well and gave strong competition to South Korea and Japan. The country ranked higher on indicators, like; Teachers to student ratio, Number of passing students in primary schools, Number of passing students in secondary schools.” 


Although there seem to be many aspects of Finland’s school start times that are listed that would make any student-run home, pack their bags and move to Finland, there are many reasons why other schools in the US would argue the counter. 


Many issues may be caused by jumping into a completely different style of teaching and working. Some examples of this would be transportation, after school activities, teachers, and the overall community. 


Transportation is one of the factors that make school start times more challenging to change. This is not only school buses, but meaning generally all types of transportation would be affected. For example, imagine if you were a parent and your significant-other left for work and you are the one that has to transport your child to school and then leave for work. Not only will that mean that school start times will have to change, but the parents’ work schedule would have to change. 


Buses and drivers also have to worry about traffic times changing; bus drivers would have to work later and, most likely, pick up more students than before requiring more buses and more synchronization between buses and more bus spaces to drop off students.  


After-School activities would be majorly affected depending on how the school system was to develop. If we were to push back school start times, meaning that school would start and end a certain amount of time later, then things like practice times for sports, practice time for music, hours in a shift that a student can work, and overall after-school activities would have a later or decrease in availability.


Teachers who have families would have less family time with their loved ones, and the children will have a shorter amount of time with their parents/guardians because they are busy doing their job to take care of their children. 


The community would also have trouble developing this new change. As mentioned earlier, jobs would also have to move their start times to work for the parents who need to drive their kids, as well as to any employer that currently have part-time workers who attend high school. This could leave almost no room for afterschool activities, meaning that coaches have to work around that as well.


Neatoday.org covered how the University of Washington had conducted some research on this topic with two different local high schools in Seattle: Franklin High and Roosevelt High. They were studying whether sleep affected the academic success of a student, specifically in 2016.


So what they did was they gave a group of biology students a sleep tracker for four weeks, the first two weeks would be to get the independent variable (the measurement that stays the same), and two weeks with the start time changed from 7:50 -8:45, that’s a 55 minute time delay. 


Now just for some background information, growing adolescents are recommended nine hours of sleep, if this was the case if you were required to wake up at let’s say six then you would need to sleep at nine-ish if that were the case and you got out of school at 2:30 to 3:30 then that leaves you with five to six and a half hours of sleep. If we were to include a part-time job that ranges from about four to six hours on the clock, then that means that you have 30 minutes to do homework, brush your teeth, take a shower, and eating dinner.


So they let the research begin, in total out of the 55 minute time delay the students gained a total of 34 more minutes of sleep, doesn’t seem like a lot on paper but it brought dramatic results. Because of the time delay, the students were recorded as being more alert and engaged with class activities. With this delay, students also had a decrease in tardiness and absences, along with a 4.5 percent increase in their grades.


Overall, students should be given the best conditions in which they are to learn. Drowsiness isn’t the best state of mind to have when your studying for a class, but to what cost are we willing to lose to give students more sleep? And what activities will we lose for it to work out?