High School Schedules Are Disrupting Teens' Sleep Chemistry
Staying up late and waking up late may seem to be popular trends among teens everywhere, but there's biology to back up this sleep cycle as a norm that school gets in the way of.
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
Teens seem to operate on a different sleep schedule, staying up late and waking up late—unless its a school day. But Nathan Collins of Pacific Standard reports that if biology had its way, this pattern would be the standard. However, it seems that high school's early call to classes may be interfering with what researchers have found to be a natural part of adolescent development.
The study took 94 adolescents made up of 38 youths ages 9-10 years old and 56 teens ages 15-16 years old. The participants were assessed every six months for 2.5 years, in addition to the participants keeping their own sleep journals and wearing activity trackers to monitor their sleep schedules. Researchers also brought the participants in for more objective testing to measure when their bodies start producing melatonin (a chemical stimulated by darkness that helps aid in sleep).
This data allowed researchers to measure the difference between the participants' wants and their bodies' needs. From the data, researchers found that differences between weekend and weekday wake times increased with age in the younger participants:
“The consistent early weekday sleep offset [wake] times across 9 to 17 years, followed by a delay at age 18 and 19 years indicates that the school schedule may suppress a biologically-driven behavior to sleep later. ”
“Roenneberg and colleagues reported that the degree to which weekend and weekday sleep timing differ increases over the second decade of life, and they relate the phenomenon to the construct of “social jetlag” (i.e., the degree to which social and biological clocks conflict).”
The bottom line is that no matter the school policy, teens' melatonin rhythms just don't support a 7 A.M. wake time. Researchers found that 8 or 8:30 A.M. would correspond to adolescences more natural wake times. Regardless of when teens should wake up their melatonin rhythms aren't matching up. Their bodies want to stay up later, making them sleep-deprived during the week days.
Researchers leave off with a warning to institutions:
“The current study's findings support a concern that exaggeration of social jetlag and potential associated health risks arise as adolescents' biological tendencies to delay are confronted by an early school bell.”
Read more at Pacific Standard
Photo Credit: Sabphot/ Shutterstock
No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap
- The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
- This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
- Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.
Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco!
Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.
- To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
- Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
- There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.