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  • SLEEP FX
    6:28pm - Thu Oct 18th, 2012
    For whom the bell tolls
    Dear Chris:

    Check the facts on this story. You are right that bedtime and discipline are important, but high school students with school schedules that are in sync with their own sleep and wake clocks actually do sleep more. We know from multiple studies.

    Telling students that real world bosses won't schedule work to go with an employee's body clock may be true, but as an adult, there is usually some choice where to work and what kind of work to do. Further, adolescents are still growing and developing. They need 9 hours of sleep and the hormone responsible for sleep peaks in their bloodstreams later than it will when they become adults. It's sort of like telling a toddler they have to stop napping in the afternoon b/c when they go to Kindergarten, they won't be permitted to nap. Would you ever consider telling your 3 year old to stop napping?

    The school buses (in Fairfax and probably Montgomery, too) begin picking students up at 5:45 AM. To get the 9 hours of sleep required, students would have to be in bed and asleep by 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. Is this happening in your household? If so, you are one of the rare exceptions to the biological rule. Experts explain that asking students to be in bed and asleep much before 10 or 11 is like asking them to jump 10 feet into the air. They simply can't do it.

    This is a public health problem and there is a solution -- setting the school schedule to work for the learners has been shown to have multiple benefits, including decreasing depression and car accidents, increasing attendance and graduation rates as well as increasing the earning potential of young people.

    What we do now is the equivalent of having students all doing a shift-work job and we know there are negative health consequences to adults who have to do this. Why in the world do we want to purposefully do this to children?

    Last but not least, sleep is critical to the learning process. By shifting the school bells -- even by 40 minutes to an hour, we increase the amount of sleep that children are able to achieve and, in so doing, we improve their performance and learning.
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }