Tag Archives: Alcohol

Schools need to start later each morning so teenagers can get the necessary amount of sleep, seeing as how recent research shows that teenagers are biologically wired to go to sleep later.

High School Students Sleeping In For Health

Teenagers aren’t lazy.

They don’t sleep late because they’re slug-a-beds, who’s only enthusiasm is for sleeping as long as possible. Biologically, they can’t help themselves. And having to go to a high school where classes start far too early in the a.m. doesn’t help either.

The four worst years of my life coincided with the four years Sarcasmo spent in high school.

His school started at 7:20 in the a.m. That meant he got up at 6:15 and I got up 15 minutes later, just in case. I barely made it through those four years and I know for a fact that the early start made Sarcasmo even crankier than he normally would have been.

Researchers have found that during adolescence, as hormones surge and the brain develops, teenagers who regularly sleep eight to nine hours a night learn better and are less likely to be tardy, get in fights or sustain athletic injuries. Sleeping well can also help moderate their tendency toward impulsive or risky decision-making.

That’s all well and good, but what teenager have you met who will be getting a regular eight to nine hours of sleep? Not many. After all, it seems like they can’t even force themselves to bed before 11 or 12 at night. It turns out that the reason for that late bed time isn’t just because teenagers are, by nature, prickly and annoying.

During puberty, teenagers have a later release of the “sleep” hormone melatonin, which means they tend not to feel drowsy until around 11 p.m. That inclination can be further delayed by the stimulating blue light from electronic devices, which tricks the brain into sensing wakeful daylight, slowing the release of melatonin and the onset of sleep. A Minnesota study noted that 88 percent of the students kept a cellphone in their bedroom.

That’s only one of the reasons I’ve been advocating for years that high schools need to start their days later. Teenagers’ biology basically prevents them from going to bed early enough to get the requisite hours of sleep each night. By starting school early, the school districts force teenagers into being perpetually sleep deprived.

Sure, stating high school later in the day might make sports practices end later and cut into time for some extracurricular activities or after-school jobs, but I think it’s a sacrifice that’s worth making. After all, the job of high schoolers is to excel in high school, so they can get to college and learn what’s necessary to get a good job. That’s much easier to do if they’ve been getting enough sleep every night.

New evidence suggests that later high school starts have widespread benefits. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studied eight high schools in three states before and after they moved to later start times in recent years. In results released Wednesday they found that the later a school’s start time, the better off the students were on many measures, including mental health, car crash rates, attendance and, in some schools, grades and standardized test scores.

I think part of the problem with moving high school start times to later is that, for some reason, there’s this sense of being a macho manly type if you’re able to do without a lot of sleep. It’s as if folks believe that sleep is for weenies. Do we really need to start toughening up teenagers by depriving them of sleep and then demanding they perform as if they were well rested?

The University of Minnesota study tracked 9,000 high school students in five districts in Colorado, Wyoming and Minnesota before and after schools shifted start times. In those that originally started at 7:30 a.m., only a third of students said they were able to get eight or more hours of sleep. Students who got less than that reported significantly more symptoms of depression, and greater use of caffeine, alcohol and illegal drugs than better-rested peers.

“It’s biological — the mental health outcomes were identical from inner-city kids and affluent kids,” said Kyla Wahlstrom, a professor of educational research at the University of Minnesota and the lead author of the study.

If you’re a dude who, like me, thinks it’s time for schools to start actually making decisions that are good for their students, then you should head on over to Start School Later, an advocacy group for health and safety in education.

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Boxing Day And Me With No Gloves

Well, no big, puffy gloves designed to hit people.

And, yes, dudes, I realize it’s not that kind of boxing.

Boxing Day is a rather Anglophilic holiday, being celebrated in UK, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa and a few other places. Traditionally, the day after Christmas was when the wealthy snobs would give gifts to the servants and tradesmen in what was known as a Christmas box. Hence, boxing day.

Nothing about the Sweet Science in the Squared Circle at all. (And thus ends my knowledge of boxing. Rather shallow, that.)

We don’t necessarily have the day off here in the states, but I definitely think we should. I mean, this is the Day of Recovery for most of us who celebrate Christmas, religious or no.

We’ve done the major clean up, but now it’s time to get our heads back on straight. Time to remember that people aren’t going to pop out of the chimney and hand us gifts just for being good little dudes and dudettes any more this year.

Time to realize that eggnog is appalling, like white snot in a glass and we really wouldn’t be drinking it if it weren’t some sort of tradition and, of course, filled with enough alcohol to anesthetize a very lost elephant who had suddenly found itself in a cocaine processing plant.


It could happen. Maybe. Somewhere in the multiverse.

Moving on.

Today is the day my teenagers go back to being teenagers. Yesterday, on Christmas Day, they reverted to their younger selves and actually rose on their own, leapt from bed and came charging down the stairs, ready to take on the day. And anyone who stood between them and their presents.

On Boxing Day? Not so much.

There’ll be quiet in the house again this morning. The only one likely to make a noise is Buzz, the garbage disposal that walks like a dog, who’s still going to demand a walk at a reasonable hour. And, like the chump that I am, I’ll give it to him.

Boxing Day also is the Day of Regret. Mostly I’ll regret that I didn’t do a better job of listening to people during the year and, consequently, purchased presents for them that they didn’t really want and forget the stuff they did.

I love giving presents. I just wish I were better at it.

Regardless, today is the day we begin to ease back into the real world, to rejoin our real lives. Already in progress.

So what do you say, dudes?

Let’s get out there and live ‘em.

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Eating His Way Through Life

Zippy the College Boy has always been a bit. . . different.

He was the only of my three little dudes who actually broke out from the norm, diet wise, as he was growing up. Sure, he loved mac and cheese and hot dogs and the like, but he also enjoyed salads from an early age. He preferred hot dogs to burgers and absolutely would not go to Chick Fil A, no matter how much the rest of us enjoyed those delicious, delicious waffle fries.

Which made his recent dietetic switch just a little less astonishing than it might have been.

See, his mother recently decided that she needed to drop a few pounds. Personally, I thought she looked pretty much astonishing as she was, but she decided she needed to lose weight. She’s done it. She cut out almost all carbs and has dropped a significant number of pounds.

So Zippy the College Boy has watched his mom’s slimformation and decided he needed to drop a few pounds as well. Not so much as to lose weight as to get, and I quote, “ripped.” Yeah, I think he’s trying to consider what the lovely ladies down at the University of North Carolina Wilmington might be seeing when he takes off his shirt and hangs out in board shorts.

Nothing like a little advertising.

I can say that now, but in college the only thing my shirtless form was advertising was the need for blindfolds and an effective memory scrub. I understand alcohol worked well for that purpose.


Zippy the College Boy followed his mom down the no-to-low-carb path. Which meant he had to significantly change his eating habits. Gone were the late-night Cheeze-It binges. Gone were snarfing down a bag of Goldfish at any hour of the day. Gone were sandwiches, wraps and fries. It was, as you might expect, a major adjustment.

The thing is, though, he took to it like a duck to water. Once he got into the habit of reaching for nuts, maybe, instead of chips, he really settled into the rhythm of the no-carb.

Now, he’ll eat just about anything. He’s always been open to different foods, from salad to fish, but he’s actually eating low-carb dessert made from ricotta cheese, a very little bit of the sweetener called Stevia, vanilla extract and a bit of peanut butter, and loving it.

He’s trying cheeses that don’t come wrapped in plastic and cut into thin slices. He’s actually looking forward to trying out different kids of meats, cooked in ways other than grill or fry.

I’m loving it, which means I don’t have to put up with nearly as much whining when it comes to dinner time. Of course, when I make something differently spiced or from a different meat than normal, I still have to put up with Hyper Lad moaning and complaining, but I’m finding that easier to ignore now that I’ve got the other two people in the house right now on my side.

Growing up is easier to see. A maturing set of taste buds isn’t nearly as easy to see, but it’s definitely more fun.

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