Sunday, February 03, 2008

Getting up in the morning is against nature for teens

Minipundit links to this NYT editorial:

A recent Op-Ed article in The Times cited a National Sleep Foundation survey in which more than a quarter of the students reported that they fell asleep in class at least once a week. Researchers say this is true because youngsters — beginning around age 12 until they reach their mid-20s — only start producing melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, around 11 p.m. and that production peaks until about 7 a.m. In adults, melatonin peaks until around 4 a.m. Trying to wake up a teenager before 7 o’clock is like trying to awake an adult before 4 a.m.

The obvious remedy would be for high schools to start later — well after 8 a.m. A handful of schools that have switched have reported beneficial results. School officials in Minneapolis say that attendance improved and students’ grades rose slightly after they changed to an 8:40 a.m. start several years ago.
No duh. Minipundit:
Well, that's certainly what it feels like when my alarm goes off at 6:50AM every weekday morning. It's only after 10-15 minutes of blog reading that I feel up to getting out of bed and ready for school. And it's definitely more of a function of what time I get up than of what time I go to sleep. I can go to sleep at 10PM or 2AM, and either way I'll be tired at 6:50AM, but willing and eager to go as soon after as 7:30AM. So delaying school from 8:00 to, say, 9:30 would definitely constitute progress.
I don't like getting up that early, and I'm an adult (in my mid-thirties, no less). And I too sometimes feel that in the groggiest early morning, the only thing I can do is read blogs. Of course, Quinn has his own ideas about when to wake up. (Maybe if teenagers knew how early babies liked to wake up, they'd be more conscientious about using birth control.)

I'm glad to hear that my home town of Minneapolis is doing the sensible thing and starting high school at a reasonable hour.

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