One minute to go. The clock casts a green glow around the room, like one of those ghost hunter TV shows that only uses blurry night vision. Finally, the alarm sounds and puts me out of my misery. Four hours of sleep? I’ve done worse. It’s time for school.
Some say that sleep deprivation is just a part of high school, something that everyone goes through. It doesn’t have to be. Here is my modest proposal: flip the school schedules of the intermediate and high schoolers. This means that high schoolers would start school an hour later and intermediates would start an hour earlier. I’m sure for intermediate students this could be a change of nightmare magnitude, but once they reached high school, they could fully realize the benefits that it would bring.
According to kidshealth.org, intermediate-school-aged children, known as preteens, need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, and they typically get it. Teens, however, only need about 9 hours of sleep per night to fully function, but many don’t get it. Is it their fault? Possibly. But this change is not intended for the students who stay up until 1 am each school night shooting aliens with laser blasters, and then start their homework. This change is for the students who would sleep if they could sleep.
Every MHS student can tell you about being pressured into taking AP and honors classes. But take more than 3 of these classes, throw in 3 hours of band or football, and you might get to bed at midnight if you’re lucky, provided that there’s no traffic. Students who champion grades over “Z’s” will tell you that they won’t sleep until all homework is complete. If the purpose of homework is to continue to learn at home, is that learning still effective at midnight, when the brain isn’t fully functioning because the student received 4 hours of sleep the night before, and the night before that? It’s not. Kidshealth.org says that among other things, sleep deprivation can lead to short-term memory loss, less focus, and inconsistent performance. At that point, the “learning” has become nothing more than checking boxes on a list.
Students involve themselves in activities after school and strenuous classes that cumulatively make piles of homework every night. They do this because they want to get into their dream college and be successful. Any student who is sane enough to take 4 or more AP classes in one semester may also rationalize staying up until 1 or 2 am to get an A in their classes. They will stay up HOWEVER LONG they need to to achieve their goals. This trait is what makes this special kind of student special, but the trait is also the bane of their existence. Starting school an hour later would help these students that have both after school activities and piles of homework to manage their load and perform better in school. The more “Z’s”, the more “A’s”.