Struggle with school start time continues


Morgan Downing

Students need more sleep- and they’re not getting it with early mornings.

Conscientious teenagers in high school try their best to achieve A’s in their classes. However, not as many students can ensure the essential amount of “Z’s.” Many high schoolers across the nation begin their mornings long before the sun comes up.

Closer to home, at Southern Lehigh High School, students are expected to report to their homerooms by 7:35 in the morning, or they are marked tardy. Some students say that to catch their buses, they must wake up at 5:45, or earlier. This wouldn’t be a problem if students could get to bed at a reasonable time; however, due to their countless hours spent on homework, extracurriculars, and part-time jobs, they find themselves falling asleep as late as midnight, sometimes later. That’s less than six hours of sleep, five nights per week.

“I wake up early in the morning to workout, have wrestling practice after school, and then have to work till closing shift,” senior Aidan Gill said. “If I had more time in the morning, I would be able to stay more on top of things.”

This is a common predicament typical of many SLHS students who seek to challenge themselves with rigorous classes, sports, clubs or even part-time jobs, but it can become difficult to perform at a high level when the mind and body are running on low energy.

“Sleep is a chance for your body to recharge, and when we’re tired it decreases our cognitive function,” health and physical education teacher Mrs. Jennifer Edwards said.

Many members of the school community struggle with sleep deprivation and stress. Without a clear and refreshed headspace to work with each morning, everyday tasks can become more difficult to accomplish. This is why I believe the district should adopt a later start time.

“Sleep deprivation among teenagers is an epidemic. Only about one in ten gets eight to ten hours of sleep per night, recommended by sleep scientists and pediatricians” sleep researcher Dr. Wendy M. Troxel said in a 2016 TED Talk. “Eight hours is the minimum recommendation. You’re barely passing. Eight hours is kind of like getting a C on your report card.”

The right amount of sleep is essential for any human to function, especially for teenagers. Without the proper brain power to function throughout the day, it becomes difficult to adequately perform in academic, physical, social, and emotional situations.

Some of the most significant benefits of an energized mind and body include an improved focus in the classroom, strenghtened memory, and an empowered overall performance. It can also improve health by strengthening the immune system, which is especially useful amidst a global pandemic.

“With more energy, I think [students] would be able to do better in school and be more available all around,” said Mrs. Edwards, “I definitely don’t think students are getting enough sleep.”

“I think more sleep often makes people happier and relaxed,” freshman Nathan Hageter said, “However, I do not believe that the average SLHS student gets a collective of eight hours of sleep every single night.”

Some students agree that when they feel happier at school, they find themselves participating more in class activities and completing schoolwork at a higher level .

According to Orfeu Buxton, associate professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State University, “High school start times after 8:30 a.m. increased the likelihood that teens obtained the minimum recommended amount of sleep, benefiting their overall health and well-being.” 

If Southern Lehigh High School followed the recommendations from health professionals and members of our community, students would be given a better opportunity to succeed, and have a better quality of life. It’s time to make a change for the sake of all of us. While students are a priority in this issue, teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and anyone else who is connected to the school district could benefit as well.