Every morning, hundreds of students yawn as they enter the school building. Why are they so drowsy? Are they tired of schoolwork? Are they bored of classes? Possibly, but much of lack of energy comes from MCPS’s early bell schedule. Although the Board of Education recently voted to start high schools 20 minutes later, further changes in high school start times are important to solving the problem of student sleeplessness.
Getting up too early to go to school makes students lack energy and harms their health. A teenage student needs nine hours of sleep every night. Regular sleep deprivation affects students’ physical and mental growth, keeping many students from learning as efficiently. For example, one junior at Quince Orchard High School explained to me that she doesn’t go to bed until midnight every night but then has to wake up at five thirty in the morning to go to school. She is tired throughout the day and has a significant lack of energy, which really affects her studying time. Her situation is not unique, but is well-known by many students, whether they live in Damascus, Olney, Potomac, or Takoma Park.
Early bell times also make students dazed, so they cannot fully focus on teachers and instruction. Many students lean on their desks while teachers are teaching or while they are taking tests. Many other students arrive in class with bent backs, frazzled hair, and red eyes, examples of how students’ health deteriorates without enough sleep.
Montgomery County high schools will start 20 minutes later next year, but is that enough? Although 20 minutes seems like an improvement, students will undoubtedly get more sleep if MCPS moves start times closer to 8 am. Later start times will promote students’ motivation and help develop their physical and mental health.
Opinion piece by MoCo Student staff writer Tiffany Pei
Image by MoCo Student staff artist Angel Wen