It's not that I'm unsympathetic to the argument. On long breaks away from school my natural sleeping time is 2am-10am. What's odd is that that time holds no matter what time zone I'm in or whether it's Standard Time (Christmas break) or Daylight Savings Time (summer break). However, I wonder if teens in other parts of the world experience this "sleeping later" phenomenon, or if they experienced it before we invented adolescence early last century. How does the army, which has lots of teenagers, deal with this when, for those of us old enough to remember, the army does "more before 9 am than most people do all day".
I'm just curious if this is pop psychology with the veneer of science or if it's real--and if it's real, how is it dealt with in other cultures.
The argument was successful in Houston:
Jilly Dos Santos really did try to get to school on time. She set three successive alarms on her phone.How can one not adjust circadian rhythms a couple hours? Get tired enough and you'll go to sleep at 9 pm and get up at 6--plenty of sleep, and plenty of time to get ready in the morning. I'll be honest, I sometimes wonder if this "can't get up in the morning" thing isn't just an excuse--and remember, this comes from someone who is not a morning person.
Skipped breakfast. Hastily applied makeup while her fuming father drove. But last year she rarely made it into the frantic scrum at the doors of Rock Bridge High School by the first bell, at 7:50 a.m.
Then she heard that the school board was about to make the day start even earlier, at 7:20 a.m. “I thought, if that happens, I will die,” recalled Dos Santos, 17.
That was when the sleep-deprived teenager turned into a sleep activist. She was determined to convince the board of a truth she knew in the core of her tired, lanky body: Teenagers are developmentally driven to be late to bed, late to rise. Could the board realign the first bell with that biological reality?
Last February, the school board in Columbia voted, 6-1, to push back the high school start time to 9 a.m. “Jilly kicked it over the edge for us,” said Chris Belcher, the superintendent.If you can get to school early for sports and clubs, why not for class? I remain skeptical. For the third time, this comes from someone who wouldn't mind getting up later, but who also sees more problems with this supposed "solution".
It is now seven months into the new normal. At Rock Bridge, the later end to the day, at 4:05 p.m., is problematic for some, including athletes who often miss the last period to make their away games.
The high schools in the district have tried to adjust, for example by adding Wi-Fi access to buses so athletes can do homework on the road. Some classes meet only one or two days a week, and are supplemented with online instruction. More sports practices and clubs convene before school.
Some parents and first-period teachers are seeing a payoff in students who are more rested and alert.
I've written on this subject at least twice before.
Hat tip to reader MikeAT.