Research into the sleep patterns of individuals across the age spectrum shows that our sleeping habits change as we age. In the case of adolescents, early start times at school may run counter to their biological necessities. “As puberty begins, bedtimes and waking times get later. This trend continues until 19.5 years in women and 21 in men. Then it reverses. At 55 we wake at about the time we woke prior to puberty. On average this is two hours earlier than adolescents. This means that for a teenager, a 7 a.m. alarm call is the equivalent of a 5 a.m. start for people in their 50s.”
What’s the Big Idea?
To improve student achievement, sleep scientists have begun recommending that schools start classes later in the morning. “Evidence that sleep is important is overwhelming. Elegant research has demonstrated its critical role in memory consolidation and our ability to generate innovative solutions to complex problems. Sleep disruption increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Impulsive behaviors, lack of empathy, sense of humor, and mood are similarly affected. All in all, a tired adolescent is a grumpy, moody, insensitive, angry, and stressed one.”