How School’s Can Press ‘Snooze’ on the Morning Bell and Benefit Students


Photo courtesy to Katelyn O'Callaghan

The bus line in the morning.

The amount of sleep a student gets is vital to their mental health and their performance in school. On average, a public high school starts at 7:59am, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but multiple studies have shown that schools should start no earlier than 8:30am.

At AHS, classes start at 8:05am, but many students have to commute from Snowmass or down valley, which forces them to wake up as early as 6-6:30.

A study from The National Sleep Foundation shows that teenagers are significantly sleep deprived. 80% of students complain of being tired during the day and 15% have admitted that they’ve fallen asleep during class. 70% of students have reported sleeping less than 7 hours on a regular basis when the minimum amount of sleep needed for a teenager is 9-10 hours. Sleep scientists say that school should start at 10am, but that would leave no room for after school activities and it would take time away from family/social aspects of their life as well as dinner, and homework.

An article from Smithsonian stated that less sleep puts students at risk to health issues such as: depressive moods, risk-taking behaviors, heart issues, high blood pressure, and more athletic related injuries. 56% of licensed teenagers have admitted that they’ve driven when they felt they were too tired to drive safely, and one out of 10 students have said that they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel. When Jackson Hole High School changed it’s start time to 8:55am, the number of car crashes involving teenagers decreased by 70%.

“It’s not a win unless it’s the best start time for all students,” Carin Towne, a parent at Laurelhurst Elementary in Seattle, said.

In 2015, Seattle approved later start times for schools in their area. The schools start later than 8:30, leaving kids more time to sleep. They are one of the largest school districts to have approved later times. Teachers, parents, and students all advocated for themselves to implement the new schedule.

“I think if it’s done in a thoughtful manner with all of the stakeholders involved, many of the issues that people are concerned about can be addressed,” Dr. Nathaniel Watson, lead author of the AASM (American Academy of Sleep Medicine) and associate professor of neurology at the University of Washington, said.

At AHS, the district would have to reconfigure the bus schedules, morning practices for some sports and afternoon practices for others. As Dr. Watson said, as long as everybody who would be affected was informed on what was going on, any school could make it work.

“We all want the same thing: healthy, vibrant, educated children who have every opportunity possible to succeed in this world,” Dr. Watson said.