One of the worst things I have to do during the week is wake up early. I’ve always hated waking up early since the first day of high school. Like everyone else I had my routine in the morning, and the worst part was trying to get out of bed at 6:30 in the morning to get ready to go to school. I know I am not the only one like this. I used to wish high school started a few hours later and I always wonder if that would change my opinion about school. Trying to get through the first few periods of high school was impossible because I just thought about sleep the whole time. Recently I came to the question if I was actually awake for my first few classes, would my overall performance in school be better?
My hypothesis would be if school starts a few hours later, then my overall performance in high school would have been better than when it starts at its original time. Those that believe school should start early say this because they believe teenagers go to sleep too late and because of this they do not get enough sleep to function properly in the morning. However, these people do not look at people’s circadian rhythm which I basically our 24-hour internal clock. According to the article Early School Start Times Hurt Students, Hinder Performance written by Dian Shaffhauser, she explains that around the age of 10 our biological wake time is about 6:30, meaning that school should start around 8 o’clock or so. Around the age of 16, the biological wake time is 8 o’clock, so school should start around 10. And at 18 years old the biological wake time is about 9 o’clock so classes should begin between 11 and 11:30. Dian Shaffhauser also writes that back in 1997, a school in Minneapolis shifted its high school start time from 7 to 8:40. With results collected from about 50,000 students from before and after the start time was change, they found that attendance, achievement, mood and behavior all improved. This means when they synchronized the start of school with the student’s biological clock improved their performance. Although today it’s hard to push back the start of high school times because of outside activities like sports, it’s something to think about possibly when scheduling classes for college.
Another way to look at this is when people learn the best. There are different types called morning people, or larks, and evening people, called night owls. Larks tend to be up bright and early in the morning but only about 10% of people are truly larks according to Dr. Michael J Breus in the article Night Owls and Early Risers Have Different Brain Structures. Another reason it may be hard for some of us to get up for school or class is because we aren’t larks, we are night owls. Colleen Oakley in the article Why You’re an Early Bird or a Night Owl, states that when you have a slightly longer circadian rhythm then you are more likely to be a night owl and tend to sleep longer in the morning.
So now I know that I am definitely a night owl since I have always loved sleeping in during the morning. Now that I am in college, I will continue to schedule my classes for later in the day if possible because it will have an effect on my overall performance. I do wish that back in high school the start time was somewhat later so I wasn’t asleep for the first few classes and based on these facts it could help out a lot more people than just myself.