Ask most teens if they would enjoy sleeping in later and the majority will answer with a resounding YES.
Morning can be a struggle for students, especially as they get older and their bodies begin to change. As reported in an article on Slate.com, our body’s natural sleep patterns change as we age. From puberty until 19-21, our bodies are programmed to fall asleep and wake up later. This means teenagers often don’t feel tired until after 11 PM, making waking up, getting ready, and being alert and focused in class by as early as 8 am nearly impossible. Couple that with the fact that teens typically need 9 hours of sleep per night, and our societal habits of having televisions, laptops, cell phones, and other tech devices in the bedroom and in use before bed, and it’s little wonder teens have trouble getting proper amounts of sleep and often fall asleep in class.
So what if school started later? Slate reported that in the U.S. several schools put back the start of the school day and found that found that “academic performance was enhanced, as was attendance, [and] [s]leeping in class declined, as did self-reported depression.”
However, later start times don’t seem to be the only answer. Students can take control by taking sleep more seriously, and realizing it is as fundamental to staying healthy physically and mentally as a proper diet and regular exercise.
Sleep is a biological need. And not getting enough of it doesn’t just cause grumpiness; disrupted/lack of sleep increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol and affects decision making, reflexes/response time, increases impulsive behaviours, and most importantly, has negative effects on learning. Students and parents need to implement a proper sleep schedule, and stick to it (even on weekends!)
To determine if your child has a healthy sleep routine, check out our sleep checklist.