Tag Archives: University Of Minnesota

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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Bouncing Back Into The Nest

by Richard

No, I’m not done editing the book. Not by a long shot. What I am done with is whining about it. So, step back. I’m climbing back into the saddle and gonna start blabbing again. So there.

Saw an interesting stat the other day. Interesting as in, I started sweating and my heartbeat raced up into the danger levels and I started swaying back and forth as my lungs labored to bring oxygen to my shock-starved brain. Yeah, that kind of interesting.

According to the latest statistics, more than a million members of the Class of 2008 have come back home to live with mom and dad.

*ack*

The Class of 2008, born during the historic bull market that closed the past century, reached a dubious distinction last year: More than a million of the college graduates have gone back home.

The number of 26-year-olds living with parents has jumped almost 46 percent since 2007, according to Census Bureau data compiled by the University of Minnesota Population Center. Last year, the number of 18- to 30-year-olds living with their parents grew to 20.7 million, a 3.9 percent gain from 2010.

The figures underscore the difficulty that millions of young people have had in finding jobs and starting careers in the U.S. following the longest recession since the Great Depression. About a quarter of American adults between the ages of 18 and 30 now live with parents, while intergenerational households have reached the highest level in more than 50 years.

If you’re smart, you’ll just hit that website link there and try to only read the interesting bits about the kids moving home and try to avoid the clumsy politicking the writer gets into there.

Anyway, I’m not sure this is a good trend. I mean, yeah, I think it’s good that people can have a relationship with their parents that extends after high school, but I think it’s all too easy to fall back into old habits and patterns of rebellious teen and dictatorial parents. I know when Sarcasmo went off to try his hand at college and then returned home, it was an even bigger kerfluffle than before. He kept insisting that he be treated as an adult and could do what he wanted when he wanted.

That did not turn out well. And, it could be that we did not have a unique experience.

About a third of adults 18 to 34 who live with a parent said the move has been good for the relationship, according to a March report by the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends Project in Washington. Only 18 percent said the move had caused relationships with their parents to deteriorate.

More than 60 percent of adults 25 to 34 know friends or family members who have moved back with their parents in the past few years because of economic conditions, according to the Pew report. It cited a December telephone poll of 2,048 adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Still, economic realities might just be crashing into issues of privacy and autonomy. That is, if your young dude can’t find a job, there might be no better place to go than home. Though, one thing I’m quite certain of, should we get another boomerang kid, just like we did before, we’re going to insist on getting paid a rent.

We love our boys and want them to have a good life, but we need to realize that we as parents have lives of our own as well.

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