by Fariha Tamboli and Lei Lei Wu
“You snooze, you lose” is the mantra of North’s students. Students are constantly drowned in schoolwork, sports, and clubs, and they are overwhelmed trying to balance all their commitments. They place less value in their sleep, whereas in reality, sleep should be the most important part of their day.
In order to counter this taxing lifestyle, WW-P should implement a later school start time. A delay in school start time would allow students to get more sleep during the night and stay more attentive during the day.
In August, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study on the amount of sleep high schoolers obtain each night, reporting that high school students across the nation sleep an average of less than seven hours a night. Sleep deprivation, which is considered an illness, has many detrimental side effects: weight gain, depression, drug use, only to name a few.
Especially in North, where students pursue a wide variety of activities, proper sleep is a rare phenomenon. As part of a highly competitive school, students are encouraged to pursue their own interests outside of the basic academics. Sports, music, and clubs are all an integral part of high school life. To facilitate the students’ growth, the district should implement a later school start time, which would allow students to better balance their schoolwork, extracurriculars, and most importantly, their health.
Unlike in the US, where two out of three students suffer from sleep deprivation, in Finland, the average schools begin between 8:45 and 9:00 am and an average school day lasts for a bit under four hours, yet students come out on top of an international standardized test year after year. Additionally, 93% of Finnish students graduate high school, which is 75.1% higher than the US’s graduation rate (Huffington Post).
By going against the traditional approach to education and allowing its adolescents to sleep, Finland has pioneered one of the most effective school systems. A later school start time does not impede students’ education, but in fact stimulates it. It’s the classic quality over quantity—a quality we are largely missing out on.
The CDC study recommends that schools start at 8:30 AM to “allow adolescent students the opportunity to get the recommended amount of sleep on school nights: about 8.5 to 9.5 hours.” Unfortunately, five out of six middle and high schools in the nation start before 8:30 am, and the national average is 8:03 am.
In New Jersey, 44% of schools start before 8:00 AM, well before the recommended start time (CDC). North starts at 7:40 AM, which is even earlier. The NJ Legislature has been looking at early school start times, and Governor Christie signed a bill in August to study the impact of later school start times.
Since last year, WW-P has also spearheaded the creation of No Homework Nights, which serve to relieve the students of their academic commitments and stress for one day. The school district can take this movement further by implementing a later start time to give students the opportunity to get the proper sleep they need. Rather than the temporary reprieve that No Homework Nights provide, a later school start time would be a permanent solution to improve student health and allow students to be more productive during the day.
We hope to see these changes realized soon, for the sake of the schools, the teachers, and the students, since it’s when you don’t snooze that you lose.