Friday, February 15, 2019

Talking About Teens Sleep

Talking About Teens Sleep

Letting teens sleep later is good for their health, grades and attitude(!). So why do schools start so early?

Like many towns across this nation of sleep-deprived teens, my suburb in Long Island, NY, is exploring the possibility of pushing back our high school start time; right now, the first bell rings at 7:30 a.m. And not too long ago, I joined a local Facebook group called Start High School Later.
Behind the pro-snooze-button movement: the growing idea that chronic sleep loss in teens is nothing short of a public health issue. Some studies have found that when high schools shift to later start times, attendance rates increase, students get better grades and get in trouble less, and college admission test scores improve.

The data are so convincing that several health organizations—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and
American Psychological Association— have issued statements urging districts to switch to later start times.
So why don’t schools allow students to sleep later? Parents (or at least some of us), for starters. One University of Michigan study found that almost half of those surveyed were against delaying start times.

Many adults were under the impression that middle and high schoolers can function just fine on seven hours or less of sleep, even though the science suggests otherwise.

In my district, some argue that they survived getting up early, so why can’t their kids? There are comments in the Facebook group about taking a stricter approach and getting teens to bed early.

But what parents might not realize is that later start times aren’t about coddling high schoolers; they’re about accepting biological reality.

“Teens don’t have a choice about when they feel sleepy and when they wake up,” says Kyla L. Wahlstrom, a senior research fellow at the University of Minnesota who has been studying
the effects of school start times on teens for more than 20 years. “The adolescent brain works differently than younger kids’ and adults’. ”

That’s not to say there aren’t real-life obstacles to a time switch. Last year in California, statewide legislation in favor of an 8:30 start was ultimately vetoed.

The then governor noted that a “one size-fits-all” approach was unlikely to fly with school boards and suggested that start times are best handled locally.
To wit: Where I live, four elementary school districts feed into a single middle/high school district.

To keep costs down,we share buses and stagger pickup and drop-off times based on age. Arranging for more buses could add $800,000 to the budget .

Teachers are another consideration—after all, they’re people too, with their own family schedules to coordinate.

Most unions detail hours in their contracts, so any districts contemplating later start times have to wait until renegotiation to implement them.

Wake-up call

Remember once upon a time when you had a baby with a flagrant disregard for how early was too early to wake up? Those flashbacks can make it all the more unbelievable when you now shake your teen in a n effort to get him up and out of bed .
I saw this with my own sons. When they were little, both had already clocked

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