My workday basically runs from 4 p.m. to midnight.

And I cover high school student-athletes.

So what does that tell you about their schedules?

The difference is if I wake up with a.m. on the clock, I’m disappointed. Those student-athletes are up at the crack of dawn to go to school.

The first practices of the fall sports season begin Thursday, and the first games will follow about three weeks later, setting off another year of hectic schedules for those student-athletes.

School starts at 7:45 a.m. at West Carteret and at 8 a.m. at both East Carteret and Croatan.

Home weeknight games can have student-athletes arriving home at 10 p.m. or later, and road weeknight games can have them arriving at home by midnight or later.

A heavy workload of homework and tests mean sleep is often sacrificed.

Evidence shows that chronic sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for physical and mental health problems, putting increasing pressure on school districts around the country to consider a later start time.

According to a NPR report, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a 2014 policy statement calling on school districts to move start times to 8:30 a.m. or later for middle and high schools so that students can get at least 8.5 hours of sleep. But according to the National Center For Education Statistics, only 17 percent of public middle and high schools, including some school districts in Minnesota and Kentucky, start at 8:30 a.m. or later.

Later school start times don’t just mean more sleep for students, but better sleep.

A Brookings Institute report detailed how circadian rhythms influence sleep patterns, and the degree of light on the outside of eyelids affects melatonin secretion and feelings of alertness or fatigue. As children enter puberty, their nocturnal melatonin production shifts several hours later than what occurred when they were younger and when they later become adults, meaning it’s more difficult for them to fall asleep earlier in the night.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that adolescents sleep until at least 8 a.m.

Numerous studies have shown later school start times positively impacting academic performance, including one that followed Wake County middle school students from 1999-2006.

A Minneapolis Star-Tribune story in 2015 showed the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement “finally put to rest the long-standing question of whether later start times correlate to increased academic performance for high school students.”

Researchers analyzed data from more than 9,000 students at eight high schools in Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming and found that shifting the school day later in the morning resulted in a boost in attendance, test scores, and grades in math, English, science and social studies. Schools also saw a decrease in tardiness, substance abuse and symptoms of depression. Some even had a dramatic drop in teen car crashes.

Some argue that pushing back school start times would impact sports, meaning later practice and game times, but adjustments can be made.

Later school start times don’t just impact academic performances, but athletic performance as well.

The Atlantic reported on a 2014 paper published by orthopedic surgeon Matthew Milewski showing as much.

In a study of 160 student athletes at a middle/high school in Los Angeles, Milewski found that sleep deprivation was the single best predictor of athletic injuries in adolescents. Students who averaged less than eight hours of sleep were 1.7 times more likely to suffer an injury than those who averaged eight or more hours.

He chalked the reason up to dulled reaction time or lack of alertness.

Numerous college and pro teams have also done studies showing sleep significantly impacts athletic performance.

There has been resistance to changing school start times around the country, and among the key reasons is tradition, but that seems like the worst reason of the bunch.

Soon, high school teachers will be dealing with groggy students in hallways and classes once again, and no action will be taken to rectify the problem.

(Send comments or questions to jj@thenewstimes.com or follow him on Twitter @jjsmithccnt.)

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.