Misconceptions vs. Reality: Waking up later for school

Misconception: No matter when you wake up or when you start your school day, you will work the same amount of hours and sleep the same amount of hours. Although every person has his or her own working cycle, the amount of sleep each person gets is proportional to the amount of time they work for.

Reality: According to BBC News, adolescents have a late-running biological rhythm and waking up earlier actually interferes with their “body clock.” Our body clock is a daily cycle that regulates our gene expression and our cognitive performance. There is a disparity between this rhythm and the typical working day–the body clock of most people between age 10 and 55 is not naturally suited to rising early. Insisting on an early start can cause sleep deprivation, which in turn can affect learning and health. Based on a sleeping project conducted at Oxford University, adolescents effectively lose two hours of the recommended amount of sleep per day. The most sleep-deprived people fall between the ages of 14 and 24. School days should start at 10 a.m. and university at 11 a.m., to better match the circadian rhythms of adolescents and young adults.

Misconception: Daylight Savings Time conserves energy and power because people do not use their lights as much in the evening. The shift to waking up an hour earlier is adaptable and a regular working cycle will be re-established after a day or few.  Daylight savings time also reduces the number of car accidents because people are less likely to drive in the dark.

Reality: The amount of energy and power conserved by daylight savings time is negligible; in a 2008 U.S. Department of Energy study, only about .03 percent of the annual energy consumption is reduced.  Additionally, researchers have discovered that in both Canada and the United States, accidents increased immediately after the shortened  sleep associated with the spring time change. According to a New England Journal of Medicine study in 1996, an 8 percent increase in traffic accidents occurs on the Monday following the spring shift.



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By Lisa Shen and Brian Wu, Opinion editors