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Sleep In, Power Up

This article was written by Gabby Quinn (Mark Quinn’s daughter) for one of her classes at the University of Arkansas.

Throughout the early years of an adolescent’s life, sleep is a key factor when it comes to academic success, quality of life, and mental stability. 

According to healthline.com, 52% of American children ages 6-17 are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep suggested by pediatricians. This statistic shows how many high school students are not resting their bodies enough. 

When students don’t get enough sleep, negative effects start to take place. The American Psychological Association speaks on the negative effects of lack of sleep including mood regulation, attendance issues, student behavioral and classroom misconduct, information retention, and cognition. 

Every single one of these issues puts a strain on students’ lives and each of these need to be observed carefully, especially when it comes to a student’s mental well-being. High school is hard enough for students, and putting a strain on their sleeping habits will only add more stress to their lives. 

It may be hard for students to recognize that lack of sleep is a cause of some of their problems because most don’t get any education about their sleep health. If students and educators become informed on the negative effects that lack of sleep causes, then maybe this problem can be changed. 

Why should people be paying attention to sleep issues among students? 

Whenever the results of poor sleep begin to have a negative effect, students start on a downhill slope. Not only does it affect their productivity in the classroom but also in everyday activities.

If students are sleeping better, then, according to the American Psychological Association, there is a big upside. They can improve their memory and learning capacity, increase their attention span, control their weight, improve their mental state, and boost their ability to control their mood. These are all major factors that affect young adults’ lives immensely. 

If sleep is such a big deal, how can we help students get more of it?

Most students have other commitments outside of academics, like sports, clubs, work, family obligations, or other extracurricular activities. It’s important for educators to be sensitive to the other commitments students have. 

A solution to this problem could be a later start time for school. 

According to the Center For Disease Control, 93% of high schools start before 8:30 a.m. The American Economic Journal says that schools with later start times see better grades, higher test scores, and improved focus and self-regulation. So why don’t we let kids sleep in to power up?

The research from  University of Michigan Medicine says that “Teenagers’ biological clocks change during puberty. Most teens fall asleep at a later hour and need to sleep later in the day to get that recommended 10 hours.” 

As kids reach different stages of adolescence there is a change to their circadian rhythm because when sleep is deprived, more sleep is needed. Their internal clock tells them to fall asleep later and wake up later, which does not fit with those early start times for school.

It is a difficult task for teenagers to fit everything into their daily schedules that they are supposed to. Giving students a later start to school can allow them to rest their minds and bodies so that they are able to perform to their full potential every day. 

These benefits are key factors when it comes to a student’s quality of life and success in future endeavors. If students’ lives can be changed by a simple alteration to start school later, then this is something that should be strongly considered. The health of students is very important and should be protected at all costs.

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