Tag Archives: High School Students

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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Revenge Is A Dish Best Served. . . To Someone Who Won’t Send It Back To The Kitchen

by Richard

It used to be that we nerds would comfort ourselves in high school by saying something along the lines of, “Well, someday he’ll be working for me.”

That was right after we wiped the tears from our face and finished picking three-day-old mystery meat from our hair. When we had it.

Turns out? We were lying to ourselves even then. Or maybe especially then.

(S)tudents who were more popular in high school make more money later on. They measured popularity using a concept from social network theory called “in-degree”—basically the number of friendship nominations a student receives from his classmates. (The number of nominations a student gives is called out-degree, and it doesn’t correlate with increased income, since it only measures how popular the kid thinks he is.) These researcher people found that just one more in-vote in high school is associated with “a 2 percent wage advantage 35 years later.” That advantage is equivalent to 40 percent of the wage boost you’d get from another whole year of education.

Yep. No matter if they were secretly smarter or really a much better boyfriend for our cute next door neighbor. It didn’t matter if they were forcing some poor nebbish to do their homework so they could have more time to play football. Or something.

If they were popular then, they’ll be earning more money now.

Good thing I was a different kind of nerd back then. Because now I’m raking in the bucks. As a part-time tutor. In an elementary school.


Maybe I was that kind of nerd back then.

Anyway. These researchers, Gabriella Conti, Andrea Galeotti, Gerrit Mueller and Stephen Pudney, used information gleaned from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which has been tracking friendships among white, male high-school students since 1957.

So, okay. Yeah. It’s got a somewhat narrow band when it comes to diversity, so maybe we can take solace in thinking this only applies to those stupid white dudes. It’s just I’ve got a sinking feeling that isn’t the case. Even though I am one of those stupid white dudes.


The authors propose that the popular kids understand the ‘rules of the game’ socially and know how to gain acceptance and support; when to trust; and when to reciprocate.

Crazy, right? In case you’re wondering, the three biggest determinants of friendship nominations were whether someone had a “warm early family environment,” whether they shared attributes that were common among a lot of the students (this idea called homophilysays that we flock to people who have similar characteristics to us, in terms of age, race, gender and religion), and whether they were “relatively older and smarter” than their peers.

And me a younger kindergarten baby, too. Double rats.

So, to all my fellow nerds, looks like we have to dump the secret schemes of delayed revenge and start sucking up to the popular kids. So, how is this different from the normal?

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Into Space Without Train Tracks

by Richard

When nominations for year’s best dad come out, I have a feeling this guy is going to be leading the pack.

Youtube user RonIsNeat, who I’m pretty sure is Ron Fugelseth from California, loves his young dude and thinks it’s a blast to watch how his young dude, who’s only 4 years old, interacts with a toy train named Stanley. In the young dude’s imagination, Stanley goes anywhere and everywhere. So his dad decided to make this come true in real life.

RonIsNeat strapped Stanley to a weather balloon and a camera and sent the whole thing up into space, where we can see the curve of the Earth below and the blackness of space above. When the package returned to Earth, father and son were there to capture Stanley for even more adventures.

This is an amazing video that I can’t get enough of watching.

A while back, I wrote about two high-school students who decided one summer that they wanted to launch something into space and did something similar with a Lego man and a weather balloon. While I thought that was outstanding because, really, it’s a couple of teenagers who decide they wanted to send something into . . . SPACE . . . and then did it, I think this might be even better.

Wait until you see the look on the little dude’s face after he gets Stanley back.

Watch this future father of the year and the little dude lucky enough to call him dad.

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