Do We Start Too Soon?

Research into the sleep issues at NAI


Zena Lang and Blaise Husek

The school start time of North Allegheny Intermediate High School needs to change. Waking up to go to school at 7 am is extremely unhealthy for any teenage student, regardless of how many hours they sleep each night.

The teenage brain isn’t ‘awake’ until around 9 to 10 am. Forcing teenagers to wake up so early causes negative effects that will be explained later. When schools subject adolescents to sleep deprivation just so they can ‘learn’, they have lost the entire essence of what learning should be. It is no longer about self-growth- it is about the demands of a flawed education system.

Hormones at play

Time and time again, when adolescents complain about sleep, it’s often glossed over as reckless decision making. As if it’s just another thing wrong with what the adolescents are doing, rather than the genuine biological process. 

In order to explain this, let me briefly tell you what melatonin is. Melatonin is a hormone in the brain. It causes you to fall asleep, or feel tired. The secretion of melatonin in the teenage brain doesn’t begin until 10:45 pm and continues until around 8 am. Teens don’t magically fall asleep when they want to or should. You could argue that they could take melatonin pills. Unfortunately, they can’t use those every night because their body would become dependent on them. Teens aren’t able to fall asleep until late at night naturally and many people, especially older adults, don’t understand that.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation causes many harmful things to happen to the adolescent body and mind. The National Sleep Foundation created a very well done article that explains the relationships between Teens and Sleep






And here’s a graphic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about adolescent sleep. If you want the full study, you can find it here.













Further reading if you would like to learn more:



Featured Picture

School And Teens- Sleep Foundation

Teens Sleep- Sleep Foundation

Why we need a later start time- The Conversation

PA schools- Whyy

Biological reason behind why teens can wake up- The Conversation