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We Have to Dream for Our Dreams: High school schedules should be delayed for better sleep quality of students

“I am so tired that I forgot how to spell tired,” Steven Pak, a sophomore at Green Hope High school, said with a deep sigh, getting ready to go to school at 6:04 AM. According to Journal of Adolescent Health, an official journal by Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, only about 8 percent of high school students get enough sleep on an average school night in 2007 (Charles 2). The authors found that 10 percent of adolescents sleep only five hours and 23 percent sleep only six hours on an average school night (Charles 3). In other words, the one-third of teenagers falls far below the sleep guideline for teenagers of 8-9 hours set by National Sleep Foundation. On the other hand, to stand out in this 21st century, one is asked to display both productivity and creativity, and occasionally even beauty(Pretty  high demands for high schoolers, isn’t it?). As even robots can not run for 24 hours without charging, students should be able to sleep enough to refill their energy. To ensure sleep quality of teenagers, Wake County School system should delay the time which school regularly begins for their long-term success.

Students occasionally have trouble going to bed early. But this is proven totally natural, especially for adolescents due to their dramatic hormonal changes. According to Dr. Carskadon, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and human Behavior of Brown University, adolescents begins to feel drowsy by around 2 hours later than when they were 12 or younger. (Carskadon 13)  Teenagers naturally do not feel sleepy until 11 PM due to biological changes. Consequently, teenagers naturally wake up late in the morning. In Wake County, however, students need to wake up as early as 6 AM, which is far earlier than when he or she is programmed to wake up based on circadian rhythm. As prevalent sleep deprivation results in low academic performance, Wake County should delay the school start time for teenagers to sleep the minimum essential amount. What’s the more, the schedule change for better education is essential to not only teenagers but also the adults.

Image from ImgFlip

When teachers are not motivated to teach, how come students become motivated to learn? Adult’s sleep deprivation result in lack of productivity and motivation, negatively influencing academic performance of the students. Nanci Yuan, MD, director of the Stanford Children’s Health Sleep Center stated that “Stanford studies show that both adults and teens in industrialized nations are becoming more sleep deprived.” (Yuan 8)  To create a productive class-setting, staff members at school plays a huge role to lead the class. Delaying school launch time is essential not only for students but also for school staff members to create efficient learning environment.

Despite the significance of late-school launch, some people might argue that students should work hard by reducing their sleep to be successful. However, sleep deprivation could limit teenagers’ potential to success in a long term. In the teen brain, the frontal lobe, which helps restrain impulsive behavior, is not fully developed, so teens are naturally prone to impulsive behavior when sleep-deprived. “When you throw into the mix sleep deprivation, which can also be disinhibiting, mood problems and the normal impulsivity of adolescence, then you have a potentially dangerous situation,” Joshi said on Stanford Medicine (Joshi 9). Regardless of academic achievement level, students should not be under higher risk their health. For the proper growth of teenagers’ brain with enough sleep, Wake County should consider modifying the school launch time.

In conclusion, one should call for a action towards Wake County to delay school launch time, or at least switch the bus schedule between elementary school and high school, which runs the earliest out of K-12 public schools. For example, Durham county already switched the bus schedules for public schools, so high school students ride on the bus later in the morning than elementary school students.


Carskadon, Mary A. “Sleep in Adolescents: The Perfect Storm.” Pediatric Clinics of North America, vol. 58, no. 3, 2011, pp. 637–647., doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2011.03.003.

Richter, Ruthann. “Among Teens, Sleep Deprivation an Epidemic.” News Center, med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2015/10/among-teens-sleep-deprivation-an-epidemic.html.

Short, Michelle A., and Siobhan Banks. “The Functional Impact of Sleep Deprivation, Sleep Restriction, and Sleep Fragmentation.” Sleep Deprivation and Disease, 2013, pp. 13–26., doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-9087-6_2.

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