Adolescents need a later school start time for three reasons

When a teenager is tired, the amygdala — which is the part of the brain that responds to danger — becomes more active. And the parts of the brain responsible for judgment are less active. Sleep problems are commonly associated with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD. “We see teenagers with really similar problems Serious mental health problems And an accident And suicide – things parents really worry about – and getting enough sleep solves those problems.”

In an effort to curb teen sleep deprivation, California Governor Gavin Newsom passed a A first-of-its-kind law in 2019 Other states such as ban high schools from starting before 8:30 am new jersey, New York And Tennessee Looking to follow California’s lead. Even as studies show that allowing students to sleep in contributes to better academic performance, lower truancy rates and improved mental health, parents and school districts have pushed back on delaying the start of the school day.

One barrier to earlier school start times is long-held beliefs about adolescents and school. So I asked Turgeon and Wright to clarify some general claims. Their responses have been edited for clarity.

Claim: We don’t need late school starts because teenagers can only sleep in on weekends.

TURGEON: On a Saturday or Sunday, a teenager might sleep 10 hours. There’s such a thing as rebound sleep, which is when you finally get a good night’s sleep and then you’re like, “Oh my God, I feel so good.” But, you can’t go back in time and undo the damage done to your body during the week. Because of your chronic sleep loss from Monday to Friday, your body and your brain were still under stress. Toxins were building up in the brain. All these effects do not go away throughout the week.

Claim: If school starts later, teenagers will stay on their phones or play video games.

Right: Research Areas where schools moved to later start times showed that children were going to bed around the same time, so they were getting more sleep overall.

We want to help families find a way out Build some structure around technology And don’t be afraid of their kids being upset about it. It all depends on where the parents are, how old their children are and how much freedom they give their child. We really recommend sticking to bedtimes and sleep routines longer than most modern parents seem to be doing. Don’t be afraid your child won’t love you anymore if you tell them to park the devices at 9pm and bedtime at 10pm.

We are creatures of habit and technology is very addictive, so it is not easy to change the way the evening unfolds and change our habits. It takes time and a lot of attention and parents to really get involved and create some activities after those devices are removed

I hear a lot of parents are a little scared of their kids and they are often in their own room on their own devices. We can control our use of technology rather than it controlling us; And our kids need to see that we can do that and that we’re not afraid to help them.


Claim: Later school start times will affect bus schedules and activities such as after school sports

TURGEON: When schools are changing, there’s a lot of confusion about it or mixed feelings and concerns from parents about sports, busing, logistics and traffic. The general result is that it all works and everyone is happy.

In some cases, the bus route needs to be planned a little differently. For sports teams in the same league or district, schools can switch together and coordinate practices and games. I think it’s really important to know that all of these concerns are logistical concerns. And so which one do we weigh more? Do we weigh logistics and adult concerns and adult-centered things or do we want to weigh adolescent mental health? And I think if you put it that way to parents, there’s no question what the answer should be.

What to say to the students after getting the start time later

Encinal Junior Senior High School has moved their start time from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. the year students return to the school building after distance learning. An extra thirty minutes may not seem like much, but some teenagers had more time to eat breakfast, which they often skipped when they had to go to school earlier.

Later start times have helped teenagers who have larger family roles, such as helping younger siblings get ready for school.

“I wake up around 6:30 or 6:45 in the morning because my younger brother comes and I have to drop him off at school. I have to get him ready and make his lunch,” Kavanti, a junior at Encinal High School, told me.

Later start times also help students who need to take public transportation. Research has shown that students Having to travel more to school, especially using public transport, gets less sleep than their peers Those who live nearby and have more options for private transportation.

Even with slightly later schedules, students barely reach the recommended minimum of eight hours of sleep per night. Students may wish to go to bed earlier, but then students have obligations after school. Students report about three hours of homework per night.

After all, they have practice schedules and sports after school. “When I got home from practice, it was night,” said Cameron, a senior at Encinal High School. He said he usually falls asleep around 11 or 12 at night

Teenage students will be the first to admit that phones take away precious hours of sleep. Texting friends and scrolling through social media distract many teenagers from counting sheep. “My dad used to come into my room and be like, ‘Turn off your phone,'” Kavanti said. “So I went back after he left. I guess that’s why I go to bed so late.”