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Do Early Classes Guarantee Productivity, Sleep Deprivation, or Both?

One of the perks of graduating high school and becoming a college student is being able to pick your class times. While there are both pros and cons to taking early morning or later afternoon classes, students, professors, and parents alike continue to take sides on which schedule is ideal for students.

Some students believe that taking early morning classes makes for a more productive day. By waking up early, students get their classes out of the way while the day is still young, and are then able to spend more time doing homework, studying, and seeing friends.

Others have the complete opposite opinion, arguing that early morning classes cause sleep deprivation, which leads to poor academic performance. Even bigger issues stemming from a lack of sleep include health concerns like depression, irritability, clumsiness, and forgetfulness. In response, some argue that the solution is simple: Why don’t kids go to sleep earlier so they can wake up well-rested?

The answer is not as simple. For instance, people who are tired can have trouble falling asleep due to their circadian rhythms. On top of this, students argue that going to sleep early when in college can hinder one's social life which, aside from the weekends, mainly includes staying up late to hang out with friends.

“I prefer later classes just because it’s really hard for me to focus and feel motivated when I don’t get enough sleep," Leila Xu, MCAS '22, says. "It’s hard to get up early and mentally prepare for an exam when you haven’t slept well or for long enough. Later classes are better because it gives you more time to start off your day on a positive note.”

Regardless of the opinions surrounding optimal class time, the question arises of whether a student’s schedule is really even a choice, or if class times are determined mostly by other factors. One argument is that class times are determined by when a student's desired classes are offered.

Another point is that a good or a bad pick time often dictates which section of a particular class one must take, whether that be an early morning or later section. Student-athletes face yet another dilemma, as they must take classes at certain times depending on when they have practice.

Athlete on the fencing team, Kate Devereaux, MCAS ’22, states, “When you are an athlete, you have a practice schedule that often conflicts with the classes and class times you want. What makes it worse is when you have a bad pick time, sometimes the only option left for a specific class is during your practice, so it makes it a lot more difficult to take that class.”

With all of this being said, whether you have picked your perfect class schedule or were unable to do so, a couple of things remain the same: the importance of consistent sleeping habits and good time management. By staying mindful of your time, any schedule can work for you.

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