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It's more than normal while you're growing up to dread getting out of bed, to snooze your alarm one more time or to rest your head back on the pillow one last time. Many teenagers struggle with getting up in the morning as a result of society nowadays producing natural night owls, meaning they don't get enough sleep. It is too easy for teenagers to watch 'just one more' episode, 'just one more' youtube video or play 'just one more' round of a game. Many teens feel pressured to stay up later to a time that is more 'socially acceptable' as it corresponds with their peers. Subsequently, this results in their lack of ability to function as normal humans throughout the day, especially in the early hours of the morning. This is the point when starting school later becomes an issue.
The phenomenon of school starting too early in correlation to the sleep schedule of teens nowadays has been scientifically proven. According to Sleep Council UK, children should be getting at least 9 hours of sleep every night, especially during the teenage years where sleep is vital for growth and development. Due to the fast-paced changes in society nowadays, this figure cannot be reached, and teens are actually on average, receiving only 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is vital as it helps the body carry out essential functions required to stay healthy. This includes the increases in muscle mass, cellular repairs and renewal of tissues in our bodies.
Teens are already perceived as lazy in society, so why is it not crossing the minds of the education board that teens should get more time to become energised, awake and prepared for the day ahead in the morning before they tackle the essential schooling they are required to receive. We need more sleep! Yes, teens are not perfect, and we may miss the morning bell or come in late but being punished on top of our harassed start to the day can have its effects on teens mentally, and it can physically wear us down. The 'Doctor of Sleep', Wendy Troxel, said that an average time for a full-grown adult to wake up is at around half past six to half-past nine which, in correlation to teens sleep cycle, is the equivalent of waking up at three to four in the morning, imagine getting up that early every day of your life, surely you would feel exhausted. According to Psycom, 40% of teens have said that they have felt stressed and anxious during class due to a weak sleep schedule and the unbreakable rule of being in school at a set time every day. Many agree that school administrators should consider changing this rule seeing as it has remained the same for the last ten centuries.
Imagine being a teacher and having to deal with temperamental teens every day of your life? In the last four years, teachers have taken a total of 1.3 million days off work for stress and mental health-related issues. To be precise, this amounts to around 312,000 mental health sick days in one year alone. These figures, reported by the Guardian, suggests that missing out on sleep is a big problem for teens and has a huge impact on their learning, as having a night of inadequate sleep can disrupt their mindset and temper in the classroom. From where I'm sitting, I can visually see the impact of this in parallel to the sleep pattern of my fellow peers within the classroom. However, due to the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation for everyone working in schools, kids can feel demotivated due to the teacher lacking in sleep, and this can lead to up to 30 pupils in one classroom alone being affected.
Here in Scotland, we pupils have an exhaustingly early start ranging from around half eight till nine o'clock, which results in me having to wake up at around half seven. School ends at half 3; if the school administrators were to change the duration of school the end time would be pushed forward a couple of hours which leads to less activity time and also study time for homework etc. after school. An obvious downside of this change refers back to how teens - who as I have already said, like to stay up late - will have less time to hang out with their pals or watch videos which could lead them to stay up at a more inconvenient later time. This could also affect employers, who employ teens in their companies and have a knock-on effect on other activities outside school.
Schools and administrators are also pitting teenagers and their parents in an essentially an unwinnable fight against their own bodies. Around the time of puberty, teenagers experience a delay in their biological clock, which determines when we feel most awake and when we feel most sleepy. This is driven in part by a shift in the release of the hormone melatonin. Teenagers' bodies wait to start releasing melatonin until about 11 pm, which is two hours later than what we see in adults or younger children. This means that waking a teenager up at 6 am is the biological equivalent of waking an adult up at 4 am. On the unfortunate days when I have to wake up at 4 am, I'm a zombie. Functionally useless. I can't think straight, I'm irritable, and I probably shouldn't be driving a car. But this is how many American teenagers feel every single school day. In fact, many of the, shall we say, unpleasant characteristics that we chalk up to being a teenager - moodiness, irritability, laziness, depression - could be a product of chronic sleep deprivation. For many teens battling chronic sleep loss, their go-to strategy to compensate is consuming large quantities of caffeine in the form of venti frappuccinos, or energy drinks. So essentially, we've got an entire population of tired but wired youth.
To conclude, the point of this essay is to make people aware of some problems that happen because of early school start times. It’s important to consider starting shool later to keep kids from doing bad and becoming sleep deprived. Just an hour or two more would make a difference on academic performance, health, and overall well-bing of students.
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