Sleep Deprived Pentucket




As high school students, we have become accustomed to waking up at the crack of dawn, rushing to be in class for when the first bell rings at 7:35 a.m.  Believe it or not, high school hasn’t always started this early, but was eventually changed to what it is now for economic reasons throughout the country. However, as health professionals have begun to re-address certain medical issues in recent times, particularly in teens, it has become evident that starting school early in the morning is detrimental to the well-being of students.  


Adolescents need more sleep at the high school age than any other time in their lives, but are getting the least amount. This is creating a huge sleep deprivation epidemic in high school. Part of this is due to the non aligning school schedule and a teen’s internal sleep schedule.  Going to bed earlier is not a sufficient solution, due to the change in circadian rhythms during adolescence. This means that teens’ brains are wired so that they aren’t tired until later than what is typical. Getting a good night’s rest is impossible if students are going to bed late and getting up early for school. On top of all of this, schools aren’t accommodating the sleep needs of students, which makes sleep deprivation inevitable.


Tired students leads to a widespread lack of attention span in school.  It is much harder to learn without an appropriate amount of rest. There has been extensive research done to prove that susceptibility to learning new material improves with later start times.  Students who are able to sleep an extra hour each morning are more alert, attentive, and eager to learn than those that aren’t.  If schools allow their students to get more rest, not only will students become more attentive in class, but test scores will go up, thus creating a better reputation for the school’s curriculum.


School Start Later is a local program that has urged schools across the country to move their start times to later in the day.  The non-profit strongly reinforces the association between lack of sleep and health issues in teens.  Without a sufficient amount of sleep, teens are at a higher risk for issues such as obesity, depression, and anxiety. Not getting enough sleep can also compromise brain development. This puts a rapidly developing adolescent brain in jeopardy, and can cause repercussions later in life.  


The School Start Later organization has made an impact on local schools such as Newburyport High School, who plan on initiating this program into their district. Whether or not this movement will affect Pentucket students is unclear for the time being.