Hillsborough’s Start Times Are Too Early

For most students, setting the alarm clock for a school day that starts at 7:20 a.m. is just too early.

photo via Wikimedia Commons under creative commons license

For most students, setting the alarm clock for a school day that starts at 7:20 a.m. is just too early.

Julia Spano, World Views editor

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Out of all the complaints I hear from my fellow students, one of them sticks out to me: “I’m too tired”. The typical response on part of teachers is usually a dismissive eye roll, followed by an admonition to “go to bed earlier”. After all, if you really want to, you can shift your schedule to anything… can’t you?

In actuality, the situation might not be that simple. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the biological sleep patterns of a teenager are wired to make them go to sleep much later than their adult peers. In addition, most teenagers need between eight to ten hours of sleep a day… which doesn’t seem like much, until you take into account the hours spent studying, practicing sports, and participating in other activities. All told, only 15% of teenagers in the nation get more than eight hours of sleep on an average school night.

What does this mean for the quality of Hillsborough teen’s sleep? The results are in for my brief survey: 67.5% of Hillsborough teenagers get less than eight hours of sleep every night, with 25% getting less than five hours.

“I wish it could change because I am a person who likes to go to bed late and sleep in late,” junior Sydney Goldstein said.

According to NJ.com, the main reason that school is pushed ahead is to avoid having after-school activities, among them sports, clubs and taking care of younger siblings, conflict with school time.

But consider the implications of this: isn’t this practice simply punishing everyone for the decisions of a few? After all, it’s not as if the entire school has extenuating circumstances. Even if this were the case, many activities, including all sports, require that students pass a certain amount of credits per year… a requirement actively hindered by their early waking time.

The best course of option would be to follow the path of other schools– Princeton’s schools, for example, just made changes to its schedule– and moved school hours ahead an hour. For those who wish to practice sports or be involved extra curricular activities, why not give each team the option to practice either early in the morning or later? Naturally, this won’t make all sleep-related problems go away, but perhaps it will give students the option of choosing sleep over extra curricular involvement. In the end, while there may be struggles to make a later schedule fit, the benefits could improve the grades, motivation and overall happiness of kids– and teachers– at Hillsborough.

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