Teen Sleeping Patterns
Sleep, everyone needs it, but science says teens need it more. Here’s a quick quote from the MAYO clinic to explain the importance of teenage sleep, “Sleep deprivation might not seem like a big deal, but it can have serious consequences. Tired teens can find it difficult to concentrate and learn, or even stay awake in class. Too little sleep also might contribute to mood swings and behavioral problems. Drowsy driving can lead to serious — even deadly — accidents.”
Teen’s lead busy lives: school, early morning classes, jobs, extracurricular activities, maintaining a social life, homework… the list could go on forever. For most teens, sleep is the least of their concern. Sleeping eats up valuable time, there’s always something more to do when you’re a teen. An ideal sleeping habit would be 8-10 hours per night. According to the Nationwide Children’s foundation, teens get 7-7 1/2 hours per night. 1-3 hours extra sleep will make a huge impact in a teen’s day; so how come it’s not a higher priority?
Harvard Medical School made a statement saying, “The older you get, the less sleep you need. When you’re born you need 16-20 hours per day, once you’re an adult you only need 7.” A common teen complaint is getting up early for school. How are teen’s expected to get the right amount of sleep when they have to be up as early as 5am for school? Before 1970 this wasn’t a complaint for teens, schools didn’t start until at least 8:30 maybe later, so what happened?
In 1973 there was a huge push for schools to cut costs due to an energy crisis. School’s decided that transportation was the easiest place to cut costs. Before 1973 there was 3 different sets of busses, elementary, middle, and high school busses. There was a simple way to cut costs, only use one set of busses for all three schools. This idea seemed like a great idea on paper, but this meant that all three school groups would need different start times. Since parents didn’t want their elementary kids getting up early to wait at a dark bus stop, the high schoolers were the obvious choice to start school the earliest. This has been the way schools have been since 1973, high school gets up the earliest, then middle school, then elementary.
According to Stanford-Med, for most teens, “it’s more difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m.” If that’s the case then school shouldn’t be starting until 9:30 am or 10:00 am to allow teens natural sleep schedule to take place. Nowadays the time school starts is up to the school district. Schools all across the nation have heard these teen sleep studies and are trying to make changes by having high school start at a later time, but the problem hasn’t been completely fixed, and it’s probably going to be a while until we see a perfect solution.
Sources: https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/03/suburban-sprawl-stole-your-kids-sleep/520317/ -https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2015/10/among-teens-sleep-deprivation-an-epidemic.html- https://www.trutv.com/shows/adam-ruins-everything/blog/adams-sources/adam-ruins-everything-sleep.html -https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teens-health/art-20046157- https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/ask-the-doctor-teens-and-sleep -https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/specialties/sleep-disorder-center/sleep-in-adolescents