Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Why do students sleep in class?

High school starts before daylight.   Most teenagers simply do not get enough sleep.   This deprivation of adequate sleep affects the student's ability to learn, listen and concentrate.  It also affects their mood and health.   

If school would start at a later time most students would have a much better academic performance.   Some districts have shifted to a later start time. Those that started later did support the medical evidence that well-rested individuals perform much better.  

Statistically academic performance and attendance improved.  The tardiness rates declined in schools that started at 8:35 a.m. or later.  The number of car crashes involving teen drivers went down when the schools started at 8:55 a.m. or later.  I would suggest that high school should start at 9:00 a.m. Teenagers need a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night.

The teacher's union and school administrators have known for years that a later start time for high school students is much better for their attention and for their health.   They refuse to change the schedule because it is not convenient for them.  Teachers prefer the early exit time.

We should regard the health of the students as a mandatory first priority.  We monitor the food they eat and drink as an issue to be addressed.   Mrs. Obama has drawn up mandatory menu selections for all meals served.   She demanded that healthy drinks and snacks were put in the vending machines. Yes, nutrition is important, as is recess and gym class.  Exercise is part of health. (Many school districts have abandoned recess.  How sad!) 

Puberty creates a later shift in the teen's sleep cycle and we cannot expect adult sleep schedules from teenagers.  Doctors attest to the fact the adolescent brain is still growing through age 25, and chronic sleep deprivation does significant harm.  Our children have plenty of time in their lifespan to rise before dawn and clock in 40+ hours of work.   Let them do that once puberty is done.  If teens are allowed to grow up healthy they'll be more productive adults with less substance abuse, diabetes, and heart disease. This is a win/win for our children and our economy.

There is overwhelming research that exposes the public health issue for sleep deprived teens.  A public health issue requires action and leadership.   Too bad that in the case of the student's health versus the dictates of the union and administration you can guess who wins.    

This change can and should be implemented.   This should not be negotiable. After all every time a levy is put on the ballot the administration sends out a multitude of cards, flyers, signs and phone calls touting the message that "it is for the children."    I say prove it.  Parents should demand the change.

1 comment:

  1. You are so right! Kids don't function at the crack of can we expect them to actually learn anything if they are exhausted?! Especially for the teenagers that have a job and are working in the evenings. How can they learn and grow into well rounded adults if they are sleep deprived. I agree that we should all take a stand and demand later school hours for our kids!