Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pushing back start times for high school students

Waking up to teenagers' unique sleep needs

Concerns about sleep - who needs how much and when - are often overlooked in efforts to improve student achievement. But modern brain researchers say it is time that more schools faced the biological facts.

Sleep deprivation can affect mood, performance, attention, learning, behavior and biological functions. Teenagers have long complained about early start times for school. For many high schools, the typical starting time is about 7 a.m. Some adults tend to blame the lack of sleep on the students' behavior - procrastinators who stay up late to complete homework, or phone-loving teens who hold late-night conversations with friends. However, many researchers say that teenagers aren't to blame for being cranky in the morning. According to studies, the grumpiness has to do with levels of the hormone melatonin.

Biological differences could be one reason why many students arrive at school clutching cups of coffee, writes Valerie Strauss for the Washington Post.

Related: Teens and Sleep

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Georganna Hancock said...

This topic has long been known and debated in the San Diego school district. I believe this year the start time for high schools was moved [forward, I would say] to later in the morning. Of course, this increases traffic congestion during rush hours.

Deb Sistrunk said...

Georganna: Thanks for letting us know what's going on in San Diego. I'm sure the change in the start time did increase traffic congestion during rush hour. But I am sure the kids are grateful. :-)