Sunday, April 02, 2006

When Should Schools Start in the morning?

This being the National Sleep Awareness Week and on the heels of the recent study on sleep of adolescents, it is not surprising that this issue is all over the media, including blogs, these days.

I have written about it recently several times. I present some science and some opinion here and add a little more science and much more opinion here.

You can look at media coverage here and listen to an excellent podcast linked here. Some basic underlying science is covered here.

All of this targets highschoolers. However, there is barely any mention of college students who are, chronobiologically, in the same age-group as high-school students, i.e., their sleep cycles are phase-delayed compared to both little kids and to adults.

In a way, this may be because there is not much adults can do about college students. They are supposeduly adults themselves and capable of taking care of themselves. Nobody forces (at least in theory) them to take 8am classes. Nobody forces them to spend nights parying either.

They are on their own, away from their parents' direct supervision, so nobody can tell them to remove TVs and electronic games out of their bedrooms. The college administrators cannot deal with this because it is an invasion of students' privacy (unless it is one of those nutty unaccredited pseudo-colleges).

Yet, college students are, from what I heard, in much worse shape than high schoolers. Both groups should sleep around 9 hours per day (adults over thirty are good with about 8 hours). High schoolers get on average 6.9 hours. College students are down to about five! The continuous insomnia of college students even has its own name in chronobiology: Student Lag (like jet-lag without travelling to cool places). Is there anything we, as a society, can do to alleviate student lag? Should we?

Technorati Tag: teaching-carnival


Blogger Wulf said...

As a society, we say that people who sleep a lot are lazy. People who sleep in are lazy. People who are tired are lazy, and it's all bad.

What sleeping role models do we have? I get 6-8 hours a night, but I might not sleep at all as far as my children know. I can only imagine how they will grow up thinking about sleep, if we didn't talk about it.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Almost every year, one of my students selects this topic for his/her senior research paper. It amazes me how much research has been done on this subject and yet so few districts have made adjustments. Why? Because public school policy is driven by what is convenient, expeditious or cost-saving, not what's best for the kids. The argument in my district is that changing the HS start time would disrupt the bus schedule. It's complicated, but not impossible...I teach seniors and have not had a productive first period class in years due to the sleepiness of my students. And for the record, I've been teaching almost fifteen years and have still not adjusted to getting up before 6; it's just not how my body's clock works, but it's true what you say, wulf, about society's perceptions of people who need to sleep later.

5:53 AM  

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