Tag Archives: sleeping

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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Things To Do In Charlotte: Sex & Sensability

If you’re the type of dude who never tires of learning more about sex, have I got an event for you.

Sponsored by Mintview OB/GYN, Sex & Sensability is an outstanding event designed to demystify sex by providing you with the tips and tools you need become creative, loving and successful in bed.

Or the kitchen. Or the mud room. Or wherever. That’s part of the point.

The event is going to take place on March 27, from 6-9 pm in the Visulite Theater, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., Charlotte. Tickets are only $10 per person and, brother, that is money well spent. Not only do you get a dynamite presentation and Q&A session, but you also score some appetizers and a goodie bag.

I’ll let you dudes in on a little secret. See, I happen to know one of the presenters pretty well.

Okay, slightly more than pretty well. I’ve been sleeping with her for the past two decades. Yes, it’s my wife, known to others as She Who Must Be Listened To.

I worked with her to prepare the slideshow/presentation that forms one of the spines of this spine-tingling evening and I can tell you from experience: This is a talk, a presentation that you want to attend.

Don’t be afraid to be a man at a talk presented by an OB/GYN office. This presentation is for both men and women, even if it’s slightly more weighted to the distaff side of the aisle. Which makes it even better for you to be there.

It’s only a couple of hours, but it could change how you approach sex for the rest of your life.

A tremendous lecture and Q&A session about increasing your happiness in your sex life.

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Consequences Of Going Sleepless Even If You’re Not In Seattle*

Sleep. Ah, blessed, wonderful, energizing sleep. How I love you so.

And, yet, sleep is something I tend to try and avoid as much as possible. I’ll stay up as late as possible before heading to bed. Once there, I will sleep as little as I can possibly get away with before forcing myself awake and starting another sleep-deprived day.

Back in my day, when I worked at my first newspaper, my normal shift didn’t start until 10 am. Which meant I could stay up until 1 am, sleep eight hours and still be in on time to start work.

That was, and I use this word with complete certainty that it is the right word for the job, beautiful.

Of course, things changed and, for the most part, I started changing with them. I still remember the horror with which I faced the night before the first day of Sarcasmo’s high school. He had to catch a bus at 6:30 am, which meant we had to be up before 6 and getting ready to head out.

I hit the hay before 11 pm for the first time in a long, long time. And I never really did acclimate to the whole early-to-bed-early-to-rise thing. Benjamin Franklin was a great dude for the most part, but he had some serious issues when it came to sleep.

So, I tend to be on the lookout for information about sleep. I like to make sure that, when I sleep too little, I am at least sleeping deeply and getting the most restorative efforts for my time. So when I ran across this great infographic from my apparently new go-to magazine for post kickstarters, Popular Science, I knew I had to talk about it.

Should you stay up late bingewatching House of Cards, or finishing off that really big book? Probably not. And here's why.

 

I can’t be the only dude who sees things like chronic depression on there and starts getting nervous about his sleep habits, yeah?

Which means that, dudes, if you’re reading this at night, it might be time to sign off the old IntarTubules, brush your teeth, change into the comfy jammies and hit the sack. See if you can get a good night’s sleep for a change.

You never know. You might actually enjoy it.

Footnotes & Errata

* Wow, did that reference date me or what? Erm, I saw it on Netflix? Not in theaters? Yeah, that sounds good.

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