By Lyla Hyman (Feature Editor).
On an average day, students need about nine to ten hours of sleep. On a normal day, teens get just around seven. Something is wrong here.
The National Sleep Foundation reported that fatigue and drowsiness causes over 100,000 car crashes a year. You are more likely to have an illness or accident if you’re sleep deprived. Our biological clocks are harmed when we stay up late, and sleep in on the weekends. Lack of sleep can lead to acne, limit your ability to learn, listen, concentrate, and problem solve. It’s even easier to forget homework and important dates. Sleep is as important as your eating and drinking habits are.
The issue is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 69 percent of high school students get eight or less hours of sleep. It puts teens at a greater risk for health issues.
Most schools start at or around 8 am, to help parents get to work by 9 am. But with many students driving themselves to school, the solution is as simple as pushing school to start at a later time.
This is supported by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which encourages schools to start no earlier than 8:30 am.
A meta-analysis found in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found in a study of 18 students, when school started up to an hour later, students typically got 19 more minutes of sleep. When start times are delayed more than an hour, that average increases to an extra 53 minutes of sleep. For a few of these students, feelings of depression and irritability decreased.
When you are sleep deprived, it is like driving with a .08% blood alcohol content which is actually illegal in many states.
Students often need an alarm clock or parent to wake them up which creates more zombie-like teenagers, and less students pay attention or attend class according to the National Sleep Foundation.
The National Sleep Foundation in 2006 did a study, called Sleep In America, that found 73 percent of the 20 to 30 high scorers were depressed, unhappy, or sad after not getting enough sleep at night. Research shows that lack of sleep affects mood, and a depressed or saddened mood can lead to less sleep.
Sleep experts recommend to break this unhealthy cycle and prioritize sleep to develop healthy sleep habits. Step away from electronics and cell phones before bed, read or take a shower. Delaying school, even an hour, can help increase teens moods and can also help them focus better in school. It might just make a big difference for students.
“If parents and teens know what good sleep entails and the benefits of making and sticking to a plan that supports good sleep, then they might re-examine their choices about what truly are their ‘essential’ activities,” Mary Carskadon told the National Sleep Foundation, who is a Ph.D., Director of Chronobiology/Sleep Research at the E.P. Bradley Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I. “The earlier parents can start helping their children with good sleep habits, the easier it will be to sustain them through the teen years.”