Mondays Suck, We all Feel it
Monday: the most relatable day because almost everyone has a deep-rooted hatred for it. Teachers, students, employees, bosses, parents, kids, the lady who handed you your coffee, the guy driving the bus you took to get to work: almost anyone you could think of hates Monday morning. Why? Mondays are depressing. The weekend has come to an end: parties have stopped, friends have gone home, vacations are over. It’s time to go back to our regularly scheduled long week of responsibilities.
When we start the week, educators and educated alike make excuses. Teachers don’t expect much from their students, and students hope, with every ounce of exhaustion in their body, that they won’t have to do anything that requires much effort.
It’s time to rethink Mondays.
According to a 2014 sleep study at Oxford University, research showed that the teenage brain is biologically set up to go to sleep around midnight and doesn’t feel awake until 9 or 10 am. A study 5 years prior had already proven that when starting school an hour later, grades in core classes went up by 19%. Despite the improvement seen in student productivity, when the leader of this experiment left the school, the school went back to the early start time from before the experiment.
There have even been congressional resolutions that have recommended schools start at 9 am or later. Studies have shown that delaying school to 8:30 am leads to a higher point percentile in math and reading. Studies in the mid-2000s showed that starting school earlier prevents students from getting the amount of sleep they need, which lowers academic performance.
Many think that simply going to bed earlier will be a cure-all, but this isn’t realistic when you factor in teenage circadian rhythms, social lives, family, work, and sports schedules. On top of busy lives, teens have more hormonal shifts, often preventing them from producing the melatonin needed to have an earlier bedtime. In fact, teenage sleep cycles typically begin two hours after those of adults.
Furthermore, a series of studies with a school district in Wake County, North Carolina show later start times are associated with lowered tv time, fewer absences, and more time spent on homework.
You can’t help but wonder why we ignore this data. Why, when studies shed light on improvement in student productivity and overall health, do we throw it away to go back to something that we know doesn’t function as well?
So what if we changed things?
We can’t just take Monday out of our week, as this creates the same effect on Tuesdays. This is seen after three day weekends in schools specifically. You might take advantage of the weekend to rejuvenate or spend the entire time cleaning, or maybe you took the extra day to hang out with friends, or something to replace the time you would be sleeping. Usually, no matter what you do, coming back isn’t fun.
By Ava Kadence Jennings
But if we had a 10 am start on Mondays, it could be one step in the right direction.
Starting later on Mondays could help by allowing people to have a slow but smooth return back to school. It would give students the time to have a relaxed morning, and allow their brains to fully wake up to prepare for school. Then, the day could be used for lessons, lectures or work time to finish things before the week starts. Not only would it be beneficial to have a late start on Mondays, but if schools looked at the research, they would see that starting at 9 am for the rest of the week would create prolonged productivity in students.
This schedule shift would require a shift in the teenage schedule concerning after school activities, clubs, and sports. These programs would need to be shifted to later in the day so students could engage in them, or possibly occur before school. Studies show that working out in the morning boosts your energy for the day, leads you to make healthier choices, improves your mood, and increases your focus.
In a perfect world, we would come up with a plan and everyone would find a way to make this work. School would start later, stores would open and close at different times, after school activities would adjust to the new schedule, and everything would work out perfectly. This can’t happen immediately, but if we shifted things around and gave time to settle in to the new schedule, we would be able to observe the long-term benefits.