Education Editorial: Sleep and school day

Education Editorial: Sleep and school day
Published: Sep. 3, 2014 at 1:18 PM EDT
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By: Bill Bosher

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a policy statement. Middle and high schools should not open before 8:30am.

The research indicates that the sleep-wake cycles of adolescents shift as much as two hours with puberty. This sleep deprivation is also associated with obesity, depression, high blood pressure…and lower achievement.

The start of the school day is not the single factor in addressing this issue. Young people are also tethered to cell phones and other electronics…frequently taking them to bed with them. They are also over scheduled…a phenomena plaguing all of our young people. They have little unstructured time.

In Richmond, some middle and high schools start between 8:30 and 9:00…but others begin shortly after 7am. What prevents the change?

Ironically, the debate is often in the home rather than the school administration building. Nearly twenty years ago, parents in Chesterfield were asked about starting schools later and 16,000 survey responses called for status quo.

The issue is not about children and curriculum…it's about change and convenience. Public policy should be based on our best research…but often it is simply based on "not messing with my stuff".

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