Teens and sleep: The impact of high school start times — 10 Comments

  1. I have a 17 year old daughter, and I have to wonder about the results of this. It is true that sleep has an impact on learning, but I suspect discipline is the root cause of this problem.

    My daughter’s day begins at 5 AM so she can be ready for a 7 AM school day start. She attends a regional HS and so the commute is long. This year the bus pickup time was going to be 1/2 hour earlier than last year and so I have committed to driving her to school each day, approximately 35 to 40 minutes away. If not then she would have to be up at 4:30 AM to be ready for her 5:30 AM bus pickup.

    In the end she is still self-motivate to keep bed times to less than 9:00 PM so that she can be prepared for the next day. On weekends she stays up later, but for her this is a matter of discipline.

  2. I am a high school teacher, and I see the problem exactly as this parent sees it. It is a matter of discipline, motivation, and I would add, personal responsibility. Many of my students who complain about being tired spend most of the night talking on their cell phones, surfing the Internet, or playing video games online with people they don’t even know until the early hours of the morning. It’s time students set their priorities, and parents see that their kids get to bed at a decent hour. My God! What has happened to common sense and personal responsibility in this country?! As a teacher, I am tired of trying to figure out how to get students to go to bed at night, eat healthy, lose weight, and read books! The school system, and in particular teachers, are not psychologists, sociologists, nutritionists, physical fitness experts, or co-parents! They are teachers, and students need to be held accountable for their actions! Wake up, America! We are going down fast!! And one other thing: parents should see that their kids attend school!

  3. It’s true that we need at least 8 hours of sleep at night to stay healthy and be ready for learning the next day. But adjusting the start time at school for teenagers wouldn’t solve the problem of students too sleepy to learn. As other commenters mentioned, it’s discipline we need to teach/instill in our children.

  4. As the study made clear it is not a matter of discipline when puberty hits there is a physical reason that the teens are awake OR wake up after falling asleep. BACK in the day students did not have as much homework OR be expected to take college level course work.SO the increase in work load and need to study more can increase stress levels and wrecks most human beings ability to function.

  5. Back in the day, my parents set a bedtime for me and my brother, and when it was time to go to bed, we went to bed. As we grew older, the bedtime got later, but even in high school, we had a bedtime. My parents made exceptions from time to time, but we learned that discipline and routines are a good thing. We learned that in life there are things you HAVE to do even if you don’t want to do them. These decisions had nothing to do with puberty. By the way, I survived puberty; it never became an issue or an excuse for my actions or behavior.
    As far as the expectations placed on our children, who is demanding that they take college level courses anyway? Do they have to take every college level class offered? I guess they do because, after all, it is OUR reputation on the line–not our kid’s. Who is demanding that our children become involved in so many clubs and activities that they are so stressed out they can’t sleep at night?
    I believe it’s time we honestly ask ourselves the following questions, Why are we doing what we are doing? What has happened to the concept of personal responsibility? We are doing a disservice to our children when we fail to teach them the value of becoming responsible, respectful, disciplined members of society. Don’t fool yourself: puberty is NOT the reason kids can’t sleep at night!

  6. Actually research clearly shows the shift in not natural as suggested by these individuals, but rather due to a shift in going to bed. The later bed time is due to teen activities at night including work after school, and social activities. Staying up later shifts their wake up time as the bodies need for rest imposes itself on the teen. Much research supports this.

  7. As a parent of a very disciplined 17 year old I will say that teachers DO carry some of the responsibility of a kid getting to bed at a normal hour. When you have 5 teachers of upper level classes each giving assignments that “should only take an hour” each night, it adds up to 5 hours of homework. My kid also plays a sport. So school ends at 230, then practice goes until 530, then there is the ride home, shower, and dinner, and we are at about 7 pm to BEGIN homework. Add the 5 hours onto that, (all honors courses with straight A’s – it takes effort and time to get), you are looking at a midnight bedtime, with a 630 am wake up time to begin it all over again. Teachers need to have more realistic homework time expectations. And before anyone goes and says…well maybe the kids should not play a sport…check out competitive college applications once. They want to see not only grades but work, sports, volunteer, AND club participation. There is not enough time in the day for a kid to be involved in all they want them to be as it is. Then add family obligations and Saturday college entrance tests and there becomes less and less time for sleep. One sport is the bare minimum of what is expected. So if those that are entrenched in academia want our kids to have more sleep, stop putting so much pressure on them to run on that hamster wheel all hours of the day, and stop assigning homework like you are the only teacher in the school.

  8. Once again, the teachers get the blame for the choices that students and parents make. Enough said!

  9. The study is terribly flawed and dated. That’s not to say it can’t be right. It is also from 1997 when most students weren’t even born. The study had a very small sample, but the worst part of the study was that it only looked at morning classes and didn’t indicate how kids did in their last 2 classes which ended later after the school starting time was moved back. Traditionally,they would have been home by then.

  10. I am pretty sure the day still has only 24 hours. Night owls are up for an extra 2 hours. If they get up 2 hours earlier, then they can go to bed at a normal time, and High Schools can start on time.

    I can just imagine my parents hearing this BS 50 years ago. I can hear them laughing now.