Late school start times can improve mental health

Ethan Mull, Staff Writer

black and white analog clock at 10 10
WELL-RESTED. Teenagers across the country set their alarms to blare early in the morning. Sophomore Sulyman Ouadrhiri’s alarm clock is ready to wake him up at 7 AM. He goes to bed at 10 PM and gets nearly 9 hours of sleep. “My mental health is good. I feel like schoolwork does not really affect when I go to bed. I feel like it isn’t hard for me to go to bed early, and the school start time doesn’t affect my mental health.” Photo by Unsplash.

This year, the school day at Del Campo High School starts at 8:05 in the morning. Many students have to wake up at seven in the morning, and sometimes even earlier just to attend school. Early start times for high school students can affect students’ mental health for the worse.

According to a study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers found that a lack of sleep in teenagers leads to “poor school performance, obesity, metabolic dysfunction, and cardiovascular morbidity, increased depressive symptoms, suicidal [thoughts], risk-taking behaviors, athletic injuries, and increased motor vehicle accident risk.”

This study also found that 68.4% of students get seven hours of sleep or less. However, The AASM “recommends that teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.¨

Researchers recommended that high schools and middle schools should start their school at 8:30 AM. Teenagers’ circadian rhythm (when they naturally get tired and naturally wake up) has it so that teenagers tend to fall asleep around 11 PM. Therefore the study recommended that teenagers go to bed at 11 PM they wake up around 7:30 AM.     

Next school year, high schools in the San Juan Unified School District will be starting their day at 8:30 AM. This is a change for the better. Many school districts are putting their students’ mental health first and are listening to what experts have to say about getting enough sleep.