Should Darien High School Start an Hour Later?

An article on the importance of sleep in a high schooler’s life and the possible benefits of starting school an hour later

Genevieve York, Writer

Sleep, it’s something that virtually everyone on earth needs

As young growing teenagers sleep is vital for growing more, as well as sleep promotes attention, memory and analytical thought.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of eight to ten hours of sleep per night is needed for an adolescent to have ‘peak mental health’ and perform best academically. 

As much as we [teenagers] would like to say we get proper sleep, we don’t.

With stressors like school, sports, one’s social life, and jobs it’s extremely difficult to get the appropriate number of hours of sleep.

“Most teens today are living with mild to severe sleep deprivation. Teens actually need more sleep than little kids. Experts say teens need over nine hours a night to be healthy. But over a third of teens get only five to six hours a night.” –

But, what if there was a way that could change? 

As we get older, the academic workload won’t decrease and the nights will become longer and the total hours of sleep will falter.

I’ve thought of a simple solution, one that I think could greatly benefit the students and faculty and Darien High School.

What if school started later in the day? 


It’s not a secret that everyone could get more sleep at night. But what’s Darien Highschool’s sleep schedule like? Darien High School is one of the best High Schools in the state of Connecticut, offering multiple Ap, honors, and elective courses for its students to take. Yet, that’s going to come with some high expectations to perform well in school and get the best grades possible. There’s no doubt that the leading reason teenagers don’t get sleep is due to schoolwork. However, I wanted to make sure. So, I conducted a google form asking students across the grades at Darien High-school about their sleep schedule. 

The questions included:

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

If you don’t get a lot of sleep, why?

Are you happy with the amount of sleep you receive?

How many nights do you think you get proper sleep in a week?

do you think DHS would benefit from starting an hour later? 

Twenty-one students across Darien High-school filled out the Google form, here are the results: 


The various results from the poll
The various results from the poll
The various results from the poll
The various results from the poll




























I was happy to see that the majority of the students who took the poll got about the required amount of sleep. Nevertheless, my theory was right, 90.5% of the students who responded to the google form said that school was the main reason that they did not receive enough sleep. And furthermore, a lot of the students who took this poll want to get better sleep and aren’t happy with the amount of sleep they get every night. 


Looking into it


At first, when the idea came into my head, I almost preemptively shut it down. According to the Hechinger Report,  “Only 17 percent of high schools start the day at 8:30 a.m. or later”. Most schools don’t start later so I had assumed there must be some sort of reason. But after scouring through Pro/Con lists and articles across the internet, I could only find 3 reasons why high schools couldn’t start later. 

And in all honesty, I wasn’t impressed

The three main reasons why most districts don’t have their schools start later is due to bus schedules, after-school activities, and sporting events for the entire district. I found these answers puzzling me. Isn’t this logic fixable in the swift step of moving sports, clubs, and bus schedules an hour back? Students would still be getting the required amounts of hours in a school day and the summer vacation wouldn’t get pushed back by it.

The one issue I did find that stood out to me on why Darien High School did not start a day later was the possibility that some of their students might have had jobs. This made a lot of sense in fairness. The Darien School administration doesn’t have control over when a student’s work hours start and end. They also couldn’t account for the number of jobs that were based out of town and they would have no influence on the starting and ending times. 

Although this is only just one negative, it is a fairly large one I will admit. 

Arguably, isn’t the mental health and education of our students more important?

As I previously mentioned, Darien High School is an amazing school. I often hear the term ‘bubble’ in reference to the town as we are so fortunate and privileged to lead the lives we do. 

Unlike most towns, by and large students in Darien don’t have to worry about helping to support their families financially. Most students’ families would prefer their students to excel academically and have strong mental health. It’s no secret that sleep in mental health are very much so connected. According to Dr. Alex Agostini at The University of South Australia young adolescents need sleep in order to benefit their mental health: “Without this, they’re less able to deal with stressors, such as bullying or social pressures, and run the risk of developing behavioral problems, as well as anxiety and depression” ( Additionally, studies have indicated that some school districts have experimented with later school start times with encouraging results. 

An article on Alsdorf high school, a German High School decided to test how their students would perform If they were pushed back to school an hour later.

“70% of High Schoolers Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep” – Stanford Childrens Health











The results? 

“In our study, virtually all participating students (97 percent) benefited from later start times, sleeping longer on school days with a ≥9 am-start – on average students gained one hour of sleep on those days,” the researchers wrote.

Additionally, the change in school schedule did not change when the students went to bed.  Students were sleeping an average of 1.1 hours longer than they normally did on mornings where they attended classes later, increasing from 6.9 hours of sleep on average to 8 hours of sleep. 

Student Perspective

So, what do our students think about starting school later?

Balancing homework and sleep was the number one reason 10th grader Rachel Greca gave for her support of a later school start, “I do think that Darien High School should start an hour later. As a student at the school, I can attest to a rigorous amount of homework that is difficult. Students stay up all into the late hours of the night doing homework and studying to keep up and sleep is put on the back burner. Starting an hour later would provide us with the much-needed resting time to reset and recharge our brains so we can do it all over again the next day”.

11th grader, Lily Voigt agrees. “I feel that starting school an hour later would be beneficial as it would allow students to maximize the amount of sleep they get. Many students are involved in sports or other extracurricular activities which take up large portions of their afternoons after school”. 

10th-grade student, Rithwika Veeturi, gave me a different perspective on the matter. “We need to start school an hour later because I’m tired in the morning and find it difficult to learn at 7.30 in the morning”, she said. 

Countless studies, healthcare professionals, and government agencies have debated the merits of later school starts for years. Perhaps the students say it best. Says Lily, “The extra hour of sleep can truly be beneficial and can be the difference between a student getting close to 8 hours of sleep (the recommended amount for a teen) instead of 6 or 7 hours”