This Is Why Work And School Shouldn’t Start Until After 10am
By Kat Gal
I sleep. You sleep. We all sleep. But do you sleep well? Do you sleep enough? Be honest…
Plenty of sleep is one critical basis of good health. Think about sleep like money. Sleep is money for the brain. Yet, young adults are piling up 10 hours of sleep debt a week. How much sleep debt do you think you are accruing?
Sleep deprivation is becoming a crisis among young adults in today’s world.
Even if you are not a young adult anymore, you are likely still dealing with sleep deprivation. It is an enormous issue for our society.
But the 14 – 24 age group seems to be the most sleep-deprived among all of us. This leads to serious health, mood performance and mental health issues, according to Paul Kelley from the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford.
Kelley advocates age-based start times for school children. He says that 10-year-olds should start school at 8:30, 16-year-olds at 10 am and 18-year-olds at 11 am. If I think back to my school times, it makes perfect sense to me. My brain never seemed to function until 10 or 11 am.
The idea likely sounds great to 16-year-olds who are happy to sleep in, but may sound drastic to parents and teachers. Kelley’s proposal, however, is scientifically backed up.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your body clock. But adolescent brains don’t start releasing melatonin until about 11am. This simply makes it difficult for them to wake up early. Talk about science! I wish I had a scientific excuse as a teenager to stay in bed later!
In reality though, it looks like schools haven’t taken this seriously. In 42 US states, more than 75% of schools start before 8:30 am. They begin classes at 8:03 am on average.
The biggest reason for it is to fit children into the adult 9 to 5 lifestyle.
But how much sense does that reasoning truly make? The lack of sleep affects children’s test scores, mood and relationships with their families. According to the CDC’s Division of Population Health, getting enough sleep is important for the health, safety and academic performance of students. We spend 1/3rd of our lifetime sleeping: it is clearly crucial for our health and should be taken seriously, especially for growing, developing children.
Early start time doesn’t only affect children, it affects staff as well who are also sleep deprived. Logically, staff should start work at 10am as well.
Kelley, who used to work as a head teacher at Monkseaton High School in the UK, performed a pilot study with 10am start times with remarkable results. He saw increases in top grades earned by students.
Now working with Teensleep, his goal is to recruit 100 schools in the UK to participate in the trial of these radically different start times.
The idea is remarkable, considering the dangers of sleep deprivation, yet it is not as straightforward as it seems. Some suggest that our night sleep should be segmented, where benefits of strategic mapping are shown in other reports.
It seems to me that sleep is just like diet and lifestyle. There is no one answer. How much sleep you need and what sleep patterns help you to function at an optimum level is very person-specific.
Nonetheless, sleep is vital for our existence. There is no question that you need to get enough and proper sleep each night to achieve health, happiness and overall well-being.
Do you get enough sleep? What do you think about the proposed work times? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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