Why don’t we have later start times for teenagers?
We know that the teenage of the species need their kip.
They go to bed late and get up when they don’t want to. This makes them grumpy and irritable and we just laugh at them and say things like ‘typical teenager’ even if they are complaining of having a headache and not feeling well.
If you are the parent of a teen then you will know that their body clock is wired differently and this is a biological fact.
They don’t like going to bed early despite it being a school night because they know and you know they won’t just magically ‘drop off’.
The mornings are a nightmare if you have to leave the house before 8am and for most teens that’s the case with many having to leave long before then.
But we are doing them no favours at all. They need to sleep and despite plenty of research telling us this, we still insist that lessons start early when they are essentially knackered.
I’ve written about the importance of students getting their sleep for Sec-Ed and my thoughts on the subject are the same.
The bottom line is that teens need to have a lay-in because they are going to do better at school.
Who is telling us this? Is this just some sort of instinct we have? Is it parents kicking up a fuss?
No, there are plenty of studies shouting at schools saying what to do but schools just aren’t listening. Well, that’s not true, they are listening but many don’t want to deal with the logistics and timetabling of a later start and who can blame them. But we’ve had to deal with worse things in 2020 so perhaps it is now to make that change.
The latest research is interesting and comes from a study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. Now that’s not a journal I’ve come across before so I delved further.
Gelfand et al (2020) found that a later high school start time is associated with lower migraine frequency in adolescents. Now this is significant because we can’t just laugh and shrug things off and say “Teenagers! Who’d have ’em!”
Migraine is more common than we think and affects approximately 8% of children and adolescents.
“If our findings are confirmed in future research, shifting to a later high school start time is a modifiable, society-level intervention that could translate to thousands of fewer migraine days and fewer missed days of school for teenagers,”
Schools do need to give serious consideration to starting later for a variety of reasons.
We can’t just keep sleeping on it and putting it off – teens could do better at school so shouldn’t we be making those changes asap.
Sleep is a huge well being issue and we all know how we feel when we don’t get enough. Isn’t it time we put the health and well being of teens first?