By Amanda Kaplowitz ’19
I have never been much of a morning person. But, when I started high school, I found that I had no choice but to become one. Waking up at the crack of dawn when it is still dark out is definitely one downside of entering Staples. More often than not, I find myself feeling sluggish and exhausted throughout the school day.
Last year on May 22, I accompanied my pediatrician to a Board of Education meeting where I spoke in front of the board about why it is in the student body’s best interest to push back Staples’ start time.
My doctor, Dr. Nikki Gorman, is one of many Westport pediatricians involved with the nonprofit organization, Sleep for Success which is working to increase awareness “about the relationship between sleep, school start times, and our adolescents’ physical, cognitive, and psychological well-being.”
Not only do many students complain about having to wake up so early, but there is actually a lot of data and research proving that starting at 7:30 and getting so little sleep is in fact detrimental to teenagers’ health. So, whiny students may actually have a point.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teens need an anywhere from eight to 10 hours of sleep per night. However, this can be very hard for many kids to achieve when school starts so early. People may argue that students should just go to bed earlier, but this can be difficult due to some students’ heavy workloads. And, regardless of homework, it is proven that, “an adolescent’s body does not begin producing melatonin until around 11:00 p.m,” meaning that teens may have trouble falling asleep before then.
Not getting enough sleep can have many different harmful effects such as: poorer judgement, increased anxiety and mood swings, increased use of stimulants, and can also lead to worse academic performance.
So, since there is actual science backing up the fact that school starting at 7:30 is bad for kids’ health, then I honestly don’t understand why an immediate change hasn’t occurred yet.. There is some backlash about the idea since it could mess up the bus schedule, lead to changing middle and elementary start times, and possibly affect sports, but these things are merely roadblocks that could definitely be overcome if it means bettering students’ wellness.
Staples is heavily concerned with the well-being of the student body, as shown from the implementation of wellness activities such as therapy dogs during exam week and the Zen Den in the nurse’s office, and pushing the start time back is another way to improve upon student health.
Even if it just a half an hour later, having any additional time in the morning can really make a difference for high schoolers that are staying up late completing assignments and studying for tests. It is definitely worth considering making a change to the time school begins because this will promote an overall healthier environment at Staples.
Photo by Amanda Kaplowitz ’19