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Counterpoint: Late-Start Wednesdays: Detrimental or Good for Teen Health

Emma Truchan, Sports Editor

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   On a typical day at UC High, school starts at 7:24 am. Many students get to school closer to 7:10, because rushing into class right as the bell rings is less than ideal. Allotting 15 minutes for a commute, and 45 minutes to wake up and go through a morning routine, a student who lives locally would be expected to wake up at approximately 6:00 a.m. With a full day of school, then sports or other after-school activities, and homework to top it all off, teens generally don’t get to bed until 10:00-11:00 p.m., if not later. In this overwhelming and hectic period of life, adolescents need a bit of a break. Late-start Wednesdays have a primary benefit of allowing students to gain some much-needed rest, along with other advantages, such as more time to squeeze in breakfast, and some time to finish last-minute homework.

   Staying up late and wanting to sleep in isn’t just a bad habit of teens — teens are biologically programmed to do so. According to the UCLA Health website, a shift in circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock, during adolescence is just another change due to puberty, forcing teens to fall asleep close to 11:00 p.m. (uclahealth.org). During one of the most important developmental periods of our lives, it is essential that we, as adolescents, listen to Mother Nature and sleep in.

   Not only are teenagers compelled to sleep in, but they also require more sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a solid 9.25 hours a night for teenagers in order to maintain one’s performance throughout the day (sleepfoundation.org). But how many teenagers do you know actually get over seven hours of sleep on average? Many students go as far as to brag about how few hours of sleep they can run on.

   We all know that sleep is good for us, but the effects of a good night’s rest go far beyond waking up on the right side of the bed; sleep-deprivation can lead to long-term detrimental effects on mental well-being. In a study done by the University of Texas Medical Center at Houston, insomnia, the inability to sleep, has been clearly connected to depression in adolescents, increasing chances of mental health issues by three-fold (ncbi.gov). These results are disturbingly apparent on not just a national level, but on a local level as well. The Healthy Kids Survey, a survey specific to the UC High student population, showed that in the 2017-18 school year 35 percent of eleventh-grade students felt “chronic sadness or helpless[ness]” and 13 percent “seriously considered attempt[ing] suicide.” With Principal Jeff Olivero enacting a school-wide goal to better the mental health of UC High students, late-start Wednesdays are a great step.

   Adequate sleep isn’t the only benefit that late-start Wednesdays promote, they also leave plenty of time for enjoying the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Math Teacher Phillip Huzar said, “I know it’s something that’s often looked over by students, but it is the most important meal of the day.” Sitting down for breakfast as a family or going to an early brunch with friends can be a positive start to a student’s day.

   This extra time in the morning also gives students a chance to complete last-minute assignments. With the school library opening at 7:00 am, the Media Center is a valuable resource to be used instead of cramming in homework and studying during the late hours of the night.

Some students are understandably opposed to this change; some complain that traffic is worse, or the later release is not ideal for student-athletes. The later start is designed for students to start adopting healthier habits and living a life that isn’t clouded by sleep deprivation or stress. Others also speculate why the late-start hasn’t been implemented to every school day. Chemistry Teacher Maureen Quessenberry explained, “The new late-start Wednesdays give us an opportunity to see how a change in our schedule can benefit us without overwhelming students and faculty members with a drastic change of pace.”

  An overwhelming amount of studies show that teens need more sleep in order to remain healthy. Late-start Wednesdays are designed to give students more time in the morning; whether it be used to sleep in, grab some breakfast, or catch up on last minute homework. Later starts give students valuable time that they desperately need in their busy schedules, making late-start Wednesdays a step in the right direction.

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Counterpoint: Late-Start Wednesdays: Detrimental or Good for Teen Health