Studies show that "youngsters — beginning around age 12 until they reach their mid-20s — only start producing melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, around 11 p.m. and that production peaks until about 7 a.m. In adults, melatonin peaks until around 4 a.m." So shouldn't middle and high school start much later than they do?
Obviously, yes, but the adults don't want to change things. You'd have to let the parents go to work later too — because even if those teens can sleep until 9, you can't trust them to get up on their own even at 9, can you? If you let teenagers sleep on their natural schedule — perhaps you do in the summer — they may sleep into the afternoon. Left to my own devices as a teenager in the summertime, I would sleep until 5 p.m. — and then stay up until dawn. (Admittedly, that had something to do with avoiding my parents.)
But why not help teens by changing the school schedules and promote flex-time for adults at their places of employment? Maybe not enough adults want to work from 10 to 6 or 11 to 7. We start winding down in the afternoon. As an adult, I've long found 4 p.m. to be the rock-bottom energy point of the day. (This academic year, I accepted the offered class time of 4 p.m. and found that I like it very much. If I have to do something at 4, I'm up for it. If I'm reading and writing at 4, I'm not too efficient. So, I've learned something new about scheduling.)
So, will adults rearrange their lives and subordinate their preferences to help teenagers? Unlikely! No one really wants to help teenagers. We already think they have it too easy. They look like adults, but they aren't self-supporting. Meanwhile, we adults struggle. Are we to struggle more so they can stay up past midnight and sleep late? Say what you will about melatonin, as long as adults are making the decisions,the answer is obvious.