Would a Later School Start Time Increase Student Success?


Jillian Russell, Features Editor

Just like many other high schools, West Orange High School has a start time of 7:30 a.m. Both the National Sleep Foundation and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend that teens should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night. As a high school teen myself, I can say that getting 8-10 hours of sleep is unimaginable. Sleep is vital for teens, as mental, physical, social, and emotional development requires sleep. With this being said, that raises the question: would a later school start time increase student success? I think it would. 

As the WOHS hybrid schedule is getting closer and closer, even though it was postponed, I think many of the students are getting excited. A 9:45 a.m. start time means something different for everyone. I think, genuinely, the later start time will benefit many students. With a later start time, there is said to be many positives. The student body will see things such as getting more sleep, improved school performance, lower dropout rates, improved mood, boosted sports performance, enhanced focus, time to eat breakfast, and more! 

Like I said, an earlier start time means something different for everyone. For me, it meant no sleep. All my life, I have never been a great sleeper. Never. From melatonin vitamins to not drinking anything with caffeine to even getting a sleep study, it’s very difficult for me to get a good night’s sleep. With starting high school, my sleeping has gotten worse. I’ve pulled all-nighters to read, study, catch up on assignments, make deadlines, and sometimes even get ahead of my assignments. Certainly, this isn’t advised by anyone. Also, before COVID-19, I was heavily involved in extracurriculars. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even be home until 10-11 at night and I’d still have to do homework and get ready for the next day. So, either because of my busy schedule or my struggles with sleep, a later school start time would be very beneficial to me. 

As stated before, one of the many positives of a later school start time is improved school performance. Sleep deprivation has a huge impact on school performance. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states, “ A scarcity of sleep impacts performance by reducing concentration, creating attention deficits, slowing reaction times, increasing distractibility, impairing decision-making skills, and causing forgetfulness.” 

James Maas, an expert on sleep, says that trying to educate teenagers so early in the morning does no good. Whether or not lectures and activities are interesting and stimulating, the urge to sleep reduces alertness, memory, and understanding. 

All in all, I believe that a later school start time would increase student success. As someone who struggles with sleep deprivation in school, I can say that, without a doubt, sleep would be one of the many positives to a later start time. Everyone is different, so a later start time would mean many things, such as increased accuracy, better school performance, improved sleep schedules, better moods, higher focus, and so much more. If given the chance (and fingers crossed we will), I think everyone could see the benefits of a later school start time.