Sleep and School


SVMS students are like zombies at school in the mornings.

Seventh through twelfth grade Seneca Valley students are waking up around 5:30 in the morning in order to get to school on time.  They are unable to concentrate and sometimes seem totally mindless in the morning, all but a few are dragging their feet against the floor.  In some cases, it’s because they just don’t want to be there.

However, we all know really why this happens. It’s because they just aren’t getting enough sleep.  Researchers state, “The average adolescent needs eight and a half to nine hours of sleep each night.” But obviously they aren’t getting that amount.  A study in Fairfax, VA found that,” only six percent of 10th grade and only three percent in the 12th grade get recommended sleep.”  Since most middle school students have some sort of after school activities as well as an increased amount of homework, they are not able to go to sleep early.  They also need time to unwind after their activities before going to sleep.  If they can’t go to sleep early and they have to wake up so early, they are not getting the recommended amount of sleep.

Dan Gorog, a student at SVMS agrees. “These start times must be changed. Every night I try to go to sleep on time, but because of football and homework, I end up going to sleep at midnight. So in the morning I look like I just crawled out of a grave.”

With the same buses being used for both the Seneca Valley Middle and High School campus along with the numerous Elementary schools throughout the district, someone has to be on the early route.  Unfortunately this means the the students at the Middle and High School Campus are catching their buses around 6.30am or earlier, so the buses can get back out in time to collect the younger kids.  If both sets of students were to start school later this would allow the older kids to get the extra sleep they need.  Starting the younger children later would also reduce the need for afternoon daycare for many of them with working parents, as the children would be finishing school closer to when the parents finish work.

Another benefit of school starting later would be to reduce traffic congestion when people are travelling to work.  The later starts would also mean that in winter there is more time for the roads to be cleared of snow.  Currently with the extra traffic, the buses need to start picking up students earlier to make sure the buses don’t arrive late to school because of traffic.

Hopefully this gets out to schools everywhere to inspire a change in start times.  Making school more enjoyable for students and raise their performance in school.  School starting later would kill this zombie virus of tired kids one student at a time.