By Alejandro Aguilar
The alarm clock almost always rings too early for a high school student. You wake up it is 6:30 am time to get ready for school, as you enter first period class you realize you should’ve gone to sleep earlier.
It’s called a sleep debt, when you owe your body some sleep time it didn’t get. You pay back some of that debt right on your desk only to wake up to the bell. On to the next class, hopefully with 100 percent fewer naps needed.
A study from the National Sleep Foundation shows that 2/3 of high school students reported sleeping less than seven hours each night. The sleep time that teenagers need on average is actually nine hours and 15 minutes of sleep each night. Some students and staff argue to start school later, so that alarm clock isn’t so disruptive to the sleep students need.
However, if schools decided to take action, it would come with some negatives. “High school students tend to be the older sibling and when it comes to them leaving later and not being available to receive them at home can concern some parents and the safety of their child being home by themselves for a while,” UHS Principal Bob Lorence stated.
Schools that decided to make the change for 30 minutes or even an hour more of sleep had significant improvement in some studies made by the national sleep foundation. However a school close to Umatilla High School, Hermiston, has made the change from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. starts.
“Hermiston has made the change from 7:30 to 8:00 and what I have seen, it has not made a big difference in their students academic skills,” Mr. Lorence said.
UHS Junior Carlos Garcia said he is fine with the school start time. “I like it the way it is because if we had a later start time we would get out later instead of earlier in the day,” Lorence said.
However Garcia is not speaking for every student, maybe not even voicing the majority opinion.
Salomon Lemus, a sophomore at Umatilla High said, “I go to sleep later at the night because I can’t go to sleep early and when I have to wake up at 6 am I find it extremely difficult and I’m usually tired at school.” Mr. Lemus said he could use that extra hour of sleep.
A small sampling of UHS students about the early start time to school revealed mixed feelings about when the first bell rings. Three out of five students said they don’t mind the school start time. Even though there are benefits to moving the start time later because of the challenges, it likely won’t happen in Umatilla.
“We do not plan on changing the school start time anytime soon,” said Mr. Lorence. “Students don’t seem to be having a problem with the school start time.”