ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Teens Aren't Getting Enough Sleep

Updated on December 19, 2014

Too Early

My alarm sounds. I struggle to get out of bed and rub the tiredness out of my eyes, but I can’t ignore the fact that I did not get enough sleep. This is my experience before school every weekday. The simple truth is high schools are starting too early. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, middle and high schools should delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. (1). My high school, Myers Park, starts at 7:15 a.m. The short term effects of waking up too early are clearly seen in students’ actions at school as well as their activities outside of school. Investigations on the subject have shown that it is almost impossible for teens to get in the habit of going to sleep earlier and getting up earlier. This is a problem that obviously needs to be dealt with, and the best solution is simply to have high schools start later.

Effects on Teens

Every day, at any given point during one of my classes, there is someone with his or her head down on a desk. The teachers try their best to keep the students focused on the lessons, but they, too, know how hard it is for their students to pay attention in class when they have gotten so little sleep the night before. This inability to stay focused on the teachers has a detrimental impact on test scores. Finley Edwards of constructed a study in Wake County, NC, that shows when start times are pushed back thirty minutes or more to after 8 a.m, reading scores improved an average of one percentile and math scores an average of two percentiles (2). Not only does lack of sleep affect test scores but it also makes teenagers moody and depressed. Parents know when their children have not gotten enough sleep coming home from a sleepover, but imagine this being the case every day for many high school students. Adolescents already have mood swings due to the effects of puberty. My moods can be very positive or very negative for seemingly no reason, and I know this is because of the combination of little sleep and being a teen.



High school is also the time in students’ lives when they begin to drive and make the most mistakes doing so. Sleepiness exponentially increases the chance of a crash. According to Sarah McKibben, author of “Wake Up Call,” when Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming changed their school start time to 8:55 a.m, car crashes involving teenage drivers dropped by 70% (3). The National Sleep Foundation compares drowsy driving to driving under the influence because of similar symptoms for both. The dangers of early high school start times cannot be ignored.

Psychology of Teen Sleep

“Why don’t kids just go to bed earlier if they know they have to get up earlier to go to school?” These well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful people who ask this have obviously forgotten how hard it is to find sleep as a teenager. A student led study completed at the UCLA School of Medicine shows that after puberty, adolescents’ bodies tell them to go to sleep around 11 p.m (4). Schools are forcing students to try to work against their internal clocks and get to sleep before their bodies start to naturally shut down. This is close to impossible for many. On top of this, students know that it is crucial for them to fall asleep as soon as they get to bed if they want to be attentive the next day. I have cracked under this pressure, known as sleep-wake homeostasis, many times and have had anxiety about falling asleep prevent me from sleeping. Those who chastise students on not going to sleep at a “decent time” have obviously not researched the facts.


What is your experience?

Does your child get enough sleep?

See results


The clear solution for this problem is for high schools to start school later. Some parents and school officials might complain that if only high schools are moved back, the bus schedules for elementary and middle schoolers are thrown into disarray. Well...move those schools back too! According to “Wake Up Call,” 47% of schools around the nation already start later than 8:00 a.m. (3). Instead of complaining about how hard it would be, why don’t high schools and school board officials listen to the success stories and emulate the ways in which these changes were put into place?


Sleep is extremely important for students to function successfully. Schools with early start times are just not giving their students this chance to be successful, and the effects are there for all to see. It is not the fault of the teens that the usual time they get to sleep is later than expected. It is only natural for them to find rest later than the time schools expect. High schools must put an end to early start times and let students get the rest they require.


(1) "Let Them Sleep: AAP Recommends Delaying Start Times of Middle and High Schools to Combat Teen Sleep Deprivation." American Academy of Pediatrics. 25 Aug. 2014. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <>.

(2.) Edwards, Finley. "Do Schools Begin Too Early? - Education Next." EducationNext. 1 July 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <>.

(3.)McKibben, Sarah. Wake Up Call. 4th ed. Vol. 56. 2014. Print.

(4) "UCLA Sleep Disorders Center." UCLA Health. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <>.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)