Zzz’s to A’s: Effects of Early Arousal

October 19, 2015

Sleep is a beautiful thing. The regeneration one receives is irreplaceable. The rejuvenation one attains after a full night’s sleep can energize a student for the entire day. Unfortunately, sleep is becoming a scarce luxury most of us can not enjoy. If waking up for school every day is becoming physically draining, it is not your fault. High school students throughout Baltimore County have to rise up so early they often beat the sun. Awaking this early in the morning can have negative effects on adolescents our age. Baltimore County must redesign their policy.  With this change, lateness rates will improve with minimal impact.  In addition, the possibility of positive side effects towards adolescents will improve with this change in policy.

If high school students were given an extra 45-50 minutes to arrive to school, the late rates will ultimately improve. The extra time can allow students to properly prepare for their school day and arrive to their designated bus stops on time. I myself struggle with making it to my own bus stop, often having to run the mile and a half to my bus stop. There have been many times when an extra couple of minutes were needed in order to properly pack my belongings and I missed my bus. According to the BCPS website there were a projected 106,885 students in the 2010-2011 school year. In that same year, 72,818 of those students depended on the school bus for transportation. This means that an astonishing 68.1% of students in the 2010-2011 school year relied on the school bus. If these students were to be given extra time, students would be less prone to miss their necessary buses and ultimately becoming late.

There are critics against a possible policy change, saying that if Baltimore County were to change this policy that it would negatively affect too many aspects of the day. This includes the schools’ respected after school programs along with students after school jobs as well as a parent’s schedule. But after interviews with several sources, there seems to be very little actual change.

An interview with Coach Rollins of the football team and Coach Single of the cross country team provides support towards a later start to the day. Rollins stated that, “Being in the state of Maryland, it’s [after school sport programs] mostly rec (recreational sports) based until high school so kids and parents are already programmed to have late practices at night from 6-8. So if the policy would to be implemented into high schools, practices would start at 4:30 and end around 6:30-7.”

Coach Single seems to agree with him by saying, “I don’t see any downside to a later start of the day. I might be able to work on my personal workouts before school then.”

Studies have shown that if policies were to change, a multitude of positive results will emerge. According to the National Sleep Foundation, after the Minneapolis Public School District moved the start times of seven high schools from 7:15 to 8:40, various positive effects were found that year. Advantages such as a less likelihood of experiencing depressed moods, reduced tardiness and absenteeism, and better grades were only a small sample of benefits founded within the study.  The article then goes on to say that, “Thus far, individual schools or districts in 19 states have pushed back their start times, and more than 100 school districts in an additional 17 states are considering delaying their start times.”

Nobody enjoys having to pull themselves out of bed in the morning and honestly it is unfair to force high school adolescents to rise as early as they do. A better educational society and community will emerge from a later school start, providing nothing but positive outcomes for the future of the educational system.

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