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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Why WIS should have a later starting time: two views


As we approach the end of the school year we are predicting changes for the next year. We already have confirmation of changing the library, however, looking ahead having a later school time could be very beneficial to the WIS community.  Many doctors and researchers have proven that teenagers 16 and older should start school at 10 a.m. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently published a study in favor of later start times. Research suggests that later school start times can improve daytime sleepiness and mood as well as success in school.

Plenty of research going back to the 1990s demonstrates how early school starts affects teenager’s health and overall academic performance. Paul Kelley, a professor at the University of Oxford, said young people in Britain were losing on average 10 hours of sleep a week, making them more sleep-deprived than a junior doctor on a 24-hour shift. In Kelleys TED Talk he said “This is a huge issue for society. This causes serious threats to health, mood performance, and mental health.”

In line with Kelley’s advice, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools should aim for a start time of no earlier than 10:00 a.m. Aside from sleepy students who struggle to concentrate in class, sleep deprivation is associated with a lot of harms to health and cognition. Among other things, it can lead to decreased brain power, increased risk of obesity, mood disorders such as depression, suicidal thinking, and a higher propensity for risk-taking. As researchers have proven, having later starting times is very beneficial for the health of teenagers.  

An English-British school in London has done a study testing starting school at 10:30 a.m. instead of 8:30 a.m. They have been doing it for two years and have discovered a drastic change. When students started school at 10 a.m. instead of the usual 8:30 a.m., rates of illness decreased by more than half over a two-year period and got significantly better grades. The long-term study demonstrated the huge health impact that early start times and more sleep can have on teenagers. Currently, the U.K is focusing on changing the schools starting times and trying to find research that supports this idea. The U.S is slowly starting to raise awareness to this, however having a school actually practice this in the U.S could change the whole school system.

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There are a lot of short term and long term benefits of having later school starting times.

  • Teens may be more likely to get the recommended amount of sleep.
  • A delayed start time could help teens sleep during their natural sleep/wake cycles.
  • Teens may be less likely to depend on caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol.
  • Adequate sleep could help teens be more alert during the school day, which could boost their academic performance.
  • Sleeping longer could reduce health-related issues that accompany sleep deprivation.
  • Getting home later in the afternoon may reduce the amount of time some teens are home alone and could decrease the likelihood teens will engage in unhealthy activities.

Teens experience hormonal shifts that make falling asleep earlier difficult, if not impossible. Their bodies won’t let them fall asleep at 8 p.m., even when they’re tired, which is why school should be moved to start a few hours later.

WIS and high schools should all change their time to start later. This will be beneficial to many teens and parents which will secure the overall well-being of many people. This topic is important because many students suffer from depression, anxiety and overall health issues with having too much stress that is mostly related to school.  Overall there will be less stress and anxiety as well as a better performance in school with grades. If the schooling system can change in the U.S it would lower demographics, giving better percentages involving teenagers and education. The school system needs to change in order for teenagers have a healthy lifestyle.

By Maya Rodic


Every year groggy teens wake up still tired, preparing to fight through the day on an insufficient amount of sleep. It is for this reason and many others that school should start later. I am not saying we should delay school to noon but merely push start times back 30-45 minutes. As it is becoming summer it would be the perfect time to introduce a new schedule as it would cause minimal damage to any routine.

It’s common knowledge that people who get less than eight hours of sleep face problems in their day, not to mention it is unhealthy.  In fact, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control recommend shifting the middle school and high school start times back to least past 8 a.m.  Despite these recommendations in a study conducted in 2011-2012 only 17.7 percent of public middle, high and combined schools met the 8:30 guideline. 40 percent of these schools started before 8 a.m.

Many schools are reluctant to make the shift due to the change being too expensive and time-consuming because the school would have to re-work the days’ schedule and shift all after school classes. This, however, is not the case,  in the long run, the shift will save money. First of all, it increases attendance rates. Absence dropped by 15 percent in a Bonneville County, Idaho after changes were made to the schedule according to Children’s National Medical Center report in 2014. An expert in the field, Megan Reilly the Chief Financial Officer for Los Angeles Unified School District, said that even a 1 percent boost in attendance would bring in an additional 40 million dollars.  

When a school start time was delayed by one hour, math scores and reading test scores went up by three percentile points. Teny M. Shapiro, an economist at Santa Clara University says that in compared to other more costly strategies like reducing class size it works just as well. He says delaying the start time produces the same benefits as reducing class size by one third or replacing a teacher with a better one.

As it turns out more sleep could also help students avoid injury.

In a 2012 study published by National Center for Biotechnology Information about Los Angeles middle- and high-school athletes, researchers discovered that a student not getting eight hours of sleep is a telltale sign of possible injury. They also found that two-thirds of students who did not meet this threshold got injured. A study conducted in North Carolina then showed that injured student-athletes missed at least one week of playing time. Only 20 percent of the wounded student-athletes went to the emergency room.  All injuries throughout the school year, even the small ones, added up to around one million dollars a year.

Teens who under sleep are also more likely to abuse different substances such as drugs and alcohol. They are also more susceptible to depression and suicide. A

2014 report by the NCBI sums up the problems finding that even an hour more of sleep can reduce teen hopelessness, Suicidal Ideation, and Substance Use.

If schools do shift up their start times, they may take a bit of work to update bus schedules and class schedules but the benefits will far outweigh the negatives. Now that summer is almost upon us it is the perfect time to implement changes like this as it would not interfere with any current schedule and after-school programs could prepare to shift their schedules for the following school year.

By Adam Rehman

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