Sleep and School: A New Direction?

For untold generations, parents have had to wrestle sleepy teenagers out of bed first thing in the morning. Then, once they get to school, teachers often find themselves staring into blank faces and glassy eyes as they struggle to teach and motivate them.

What’s the source of this problem? A one-word answer would be "puberty." For reasons not fully understood, though hormonal changes are a good bet, puberty seems to throw a teen’s system out of whack, a change called "phase delay."

The change causes teens to have trouble falling asleep before 11:00 PM, and then they want to sleep next morning as long as possible.

Data collected by the National Sleep Foundation indicates that 87% of teens say they are not getting the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Also, there’s growing scientific evidence that this lack of sleep contributes to health problems like obesity and diabetes.

Is there a solution? To some, there is one that is both obvious and simple, but also hugely complex. In 2014 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that middle and high schools delay their start times until 8:30 AM so that students can get more sleep.

Sounds simple enough, but there are multiple factors working against this proposal. What about after-school activities? Do you curtail those or simply drop them? Can you get surrounding school districts to coordinate their schedules with yours? And there’s the weight of the status quo. Millions of teachers, administrators and parents are satisfied with the current situation and don’t want to change.

Despite the obstacles, there are some success stories. Five years ago, Sharon High School in Sharon, Massachusetts moved its starting time back from 7:25 to 8:05 AM. Polled a year later, most students and parents felt the change was positive, while teachers were a bit more skeptical. But even they had to admit that students were less lethargic in their first classes.

With 15,000 school districts across the U.S., a mass change to a later start time isn’t likely. But there’s evidence that more school districts are considering the idea.

Whether you’re a parent or not, to get the rest that’s crucial to your health, come by any of our locations and let our sales associates help you find the mattress that will give you a great night’s sleep so you can face each morning with a smile, not a frown.

Courtesy of Time Magazine



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