It’s no secret that students have always had issues with early morning classes. Teachers see it every day: kids stumbling in to classes with bleary eyes and tired minds, fidgeting in their hard, unforgiving seats as they find increasingly ridiculous positions to fall asleep in. However, despite the rampant sleep depravity in teenagers nationwide, the issue continues to be thoroughly ignored by every level of academic government. A recent policy adopted by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools delay the start of classes until 8:30 or later to combat sleep depravity in kids, but have you heard anything about it? The natural sleep cycles of adolescents often make it difficult, or nearly impossible, to fall asleep before 11 PM. This combined with the fact that school policy requires students to be present at 7:50 means about 7 hours of sleep, less for those who have responsibilities in the morning or drive long distances to school. 7 is a sad number compared to the 9 to 9 1/2 hours that are recommended for adolescents by the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep rests the mind and body, and is vital to human growth and learning. Without adequate sleep, it is common to develop chronic physical and mental ailments. Even in 2001, the American Psychological Association stated that “sleep difficulties are often associated with psychopathologies such as depression and ADHD.” But if these findings have been around for so long, why have we seen such little change? Sure, pushing back class times would take considerable amounts of paperwork and board meetings and monotony, but if administrators truly cared for the psychological as well as physical well-being of their students they would make that small sacrifice and save us not only from a constant lack of energy but even from chronic mental illness.
by Luke Johnson