Many parents know waking up a sleeping teenager is a tough job; they want to stay up late and sleep in. Is wanting to stay in bed due to stubbornness, or a natural reaction to protect health? New research shows that the desire to sleep in isn’t just a matter of rebellion–it could be biological. Scientists believe students aren’t getting enough sleep.
The call to start school later in the morning growing stronger after evidence has continually demonstrated that it would behoove students to start their day at later times. Studies have shown even waking up one hour later could reel in big benefits. This can end with better academic performance, improved mental health and even fewer car accidents–all for just an extra 60 minutes of sleep for students in high school and college.
A position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has put this into perspective recently, by not only reiterating what past research has shown, but by presenting new research on the benefits that more sleep and a later start can have on young adults.
According to the paper, school days should really begin at 8:30AM for middle and high school students, and that kids in this age group should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. But, CDC reports show that a majority of high school students only get 7 hours of sleep or less on school nights.
Nathanial Watson, the paper’s lead author and AASM Past President said, “Starting school at 8:30 AM or later gives teens a better opportunity to get the sufficient sleep they need to learn and function at their highest level.”
Sources say that there is a shift in the sleep cycle during teenage years, which essentially puts them two or three hours “behind” the rest of us; they go to sleep later and wake up later due to biological changes that are occurring in their bodies and brains.
When the need to wake early is combined with these biological changes–that make it difficult to go to bed at a reasonable hour–sleep loss is almost unavoidable. That’s why the AASM believes school should simply start later.
College students are in the same, sleep-deprived boat–with some research suggesting their optimal start time could be as late as 11:00AM, or even noon.
Getting enough sleep is a challenge, but changes to class start times can help.