8:30 classes not the issue, sleeping habits to blame


Christopher Perez

Cartoon by Christopher Perez

An alarm set far too early, a cup or an entire pot of coffee and an iron will ­­— the tools of the trade for any student in 8:30 a.m. classes.

Ask almost anyone who has one in their schedule and they’ll tell you these morning classes are often a struggle. But are 8:30 a.m. classes really to blame for sleep deprivation and poor academic performance?

No. The real issue is the habits of Guilford students.

“Classes at 8:30 aren’t the problem,” said Coordinator for Health Sciences Major & Pre-Health Professions Advising Anne Glenn. “The problem is lack of sleep, which will always be a problem for students regardless of the time of the day.”

Whether because of heavy workloads, busy schedules, active social lives or lack of parental supervision, college students often stay up very late. This, combined with 8:30 a.m. classes, isn’t conducive to a healthy sleep schedule or strong academic performance. 

“There is this trend that people in the college age range tend to go to bed later,” said junior Anna Lichtiger. “Maybe they are more hard-wired for that at this age, but when you go to bed is a choice. You can go to bed earlier.”

However, some argue that this time slot, regardless of students’ habits, is still far too early.

“(8:30 a.m. classes) are a terrible idea,” said Associate Professor of Religious Studies Eric Mortensen. “Recent scientific studies have been conclusive in telling us that they are not only unhealthy, but are also demonstrably bad for academics.”

According to a report published by the Center of Disease Control over the summer, many schools are starting classes too early, which prevents students from getting the necessary amount of sleep. The findings of this study led researchers to urge schools to start classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

This is something Guilford College has already implemented. Additionally, pushing the start of classes any later could have big consequences.

“Unless the student population shrinks to below 1,000, the College does not have classroom space to eliminate 8:30 a.m. classes, unless many more classes were three times a week and more met on Fridays,” said former Academic Dean Adrienne Israel in an email interview. “Guilford could begin classes at 9:00 a.m., but it would probably mean eliminating community time on Wednesdays to schedule more classes on Wednesday afternoon from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.”

The Guilford College community must be mindful of sleep deprivation, a common problem for college students.

In order to receive the recommended eight hours of sleep, students in 8:30 a.m. classes would have to go to bed around 11:00 – 12:00 p.m. This expectation is reasonable.

But rather than administrative action, it would require something of Guilford students: going to bed earlier.

Students are often too quick to blame 8:30 a.m. classes for all of their problems, but starting classes later isn’t the solution. Students need to take responsibility for their own actions, stop procrastinating and get more sleep.

All students, not just those with 8:30 a.m. classes the next morning, must be aware of their own need for sleep and be respectful of everyone else’s need for the same. Guilford needs to continue to encourage and teach students to not only get enough sleep, but also to plan and work ahead so that going to bed earlier can even be a possibility.