Archive for Sunday, September 5, 2010

Let high-schoolers sleep in, state health officer says

September 5, 2010


The state’s top health officer says high schoolers need to get more sleep — and if that means starting classes later statewide, so be it.

Health official says students sleep deprived

A top Kansas health official says high school students need more sleep. A suggestion has been made to move back class starting times. Enlarge video

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Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, who serves as Kansas State Health Officer and is director of health for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, says that adults need to do more to prevent what he calls “teenage sleep deprivation” — a mounting problem that’s becoming even more of a concern for teachers, parents and health professionals.

Surveys indicate that only 15 percent of teens get 8.5 hours of sleep each school night, he said, and even that’s short of the nine or 10 hours they should be getting to help them function at their best. Many get by with six hours or less.

“What this means is that most teenagers today — kids whose lives are filled with homework, sports, after-school activities and part-time jobs — are falling well short of the sleep their bodies require for good health and full enjoyment of life,” Eberhart-Phillips said recently. “Some kids get so little sleep they might best be described as walking zombies.”

Part of the solution, he said: Work with school districts to push back start times at high schools.

When districts elsewhere have implemented later start times, he said, their students have responded with “improved motivation, better class attendance, heightened academic performance, fewer incidents of misbehavior and greater overall alertness.

“With all that we know now about the importance of teens getting enough sleep, it may be time for Kansas educators to consider seriously the benefits of an 8:30 a.m. start time in high schools around the state.”

The formal school day starts at 8:05 a.m. at Lawrence and Free State high schools in Lawrence, but some students get a head start on their days by taking “zero hour” courses, which begin at 7 a.m.

At Free State, about 25 percent of students “take advantage” of zero hour, said Ted Berard, associate vice principal. The move is particularly advantageous for juniors and seniors, who can finish their school days early by leaving after fifth period — or stick around for a sixth, if desired.

Zero hour is optional. Students who enroll in such early courses may do so to help fit in after-school employment or activities.

Besides, Berard said, he hasn’t seen any particular reason to change the schedule.

“By and large, I think you’d find they’re pretty alert and ready to get after it,” Berard said. “We observe how the kids do here at school, and they seem to do pretty well.”

Beginning the school day later could be problematic for a number of scheduling reasons, Berard said. “There’s talk about time students might be away from class time to be at athletic events and that type of thing,” he said.

But evidence increasingly shows that “sleep-deprived” teens suffer problems related to attention, memory and control of inappropriate behavior, Eberhart-Phillips said.

“As a group, drowsy teens are more likely to underperform in school, to drive recklessly on the street and to miss out on getting the exercise they need to avoid obesity and other health problems,” he said.


Cogito_Ergo_Es 3 years, 7 months ago

Keep in mind that high schoolers do not live in a vaccuum. This does not only affect them. In particular I would mention, that all the school's schedules are tied together by bussing. If you start the high schoolers an hour later, when do the buses run? I can assure you this district cannot afford to run them twice. Does everyone then start an hour later than they do now? The rural kids coming into Lawrence already (some of them) ride for an hour to get to school. Sure, they might like to sleep a little later, but what about the return? If school's don't let out until 4:30, then those elementary kids don't get home until 5:30 either, and when a good portion of the school year is in the winter, that means they are getting home after dark. No fresh air and exercise. No bike riding or playing in the treehouse. Effectively, go home, do homework, eat dinner, and go to bed. And those extra curricular activities, when, exactly?? It's hard enough to fit the extra fun stuff in, that hour is critical at the end of the school day. Unless you want those businesses to start offering dance classes at 8:00 am, but wait, the high schoolers working there will still be asleep...


CorkyHundley 3 years, 7 months ago

This makes me wonder how the settlers were able to build a one room school with all ages being taught at once. Settler children in their covered wagons, probably slept in late and were all fussy if momma got them up before noon.

Did Abe Lincoln get up at 10 am to go to school? Abe was probably a liberal that believed strongly that sleeping in was more important than splitting rails with a heavy axe at 8 am.


gr 3 years, 7 months ago

“What this means is that most teenagers today — kids whose lives are filled with homework, sports, after-school activities and part-time jobs — are falling well short of the sleep their bodies require for good health and full enjoyment of life,”

Problem: Kids are not getting enough sleep.

Cause: lives filled with homework, sports, after school activities, and part time jobs.

Leave it to the director for the department of health to come up with the "solution":
Move everything down.

He probable thinks daylight savings time saves daylight.

With all this talk about elephants in the room, is he ignoring the elephant in the room? The cause of lack of sleep: too many activities.

The purpose of school is to educate kids so they can have jobs. Homework would be a necessary part of that. Getting job experience would be supported. But what do sports and after school activities have to do with it? Now, I'm not against exercising, although it won't help much with losing weight. And I'm not against kids playing sports. But why does it have to be mandatory set times, with added expense of competing with other schools?

Simple solution. Cut off the cause of the problem.

It will cut down on the activities their lives are filled with, and cut down on tax dollars so more will go to education.


gbulldog 3 years, 7 months ago

If a highschool student is working, how late does he/she work? What does the student have to give up to be able to work. Thriee things need to change to encourage students to prepare for the future. Each student is unique, has different abillities and has been taught differently. I propose four solutions to encouge students to be sucessful in school: : 1. No one under 18 (unless they have graduated from highschool) can work past 9:00 pm. not even on weekends. Also they could not work over 10 hours per week. 2. No one under 18 would be issued an unrestricted drivers license unless they have graduated from high school. 3. All vehciles must have clear identiicaation (such as a hang tag) that the driver has a restricted license. The vehicle could only be driven between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM unless comming from or going to their official residense for a shool function. 4. Impose an additional drivers license fee ($1200 plus) for all persons who have not graduated from an accredited highschool or vocational school. . If they are an illegal alien, at least $6,000 fee, The additional fees would be use to support our educational systems.


Jane 3 years, 7 months ago

Are you kidding merrill? If they are to be dropped off early, they might as well be in class. I do agree with rubberbands thoughts, I also had trouble sleeping early in the night, and took naps in the afternoon.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

"With a later start what I see are more absences due to the parents being at work and the kids sleeping in because they weren't sent off before mom and dad went to work."

Drop them off early to study,do lab or work out in the gym.


Russell Fryberger 3 years, 7 months ago

If you give them and inch, they'll take a mile. In this case, give them a minute and they'll need an hour. Dumb idea. Got to bed like we did. We made it. Bunch of whiners.


rubberband 3 years, 7 months ago

Just a couple of thoughts--going to bed earlier sounds like a pretty simple solution. In the paper version of the LJW, there is more information not included here. Basically it says that adolescents' natural circadian rhythms cause them to feel more awake at night. My kid goes to bed at a reasonable hour only to lay awake for hours, night after night. I remember doing the same when I was a teenager, and my parents made me go to bed very early. Still, my child chooses to take a zero hour and get out of school an hour earlier, then comes home and takes a nap. The way I see it, it doesn't really matter when they get their 8 or 9 hours of sleep, just so they get it.

Also, with respect to being over-scheduled, I agree that many kids have too much to do, but I can also tell you that all of those AP courses, leadership activities, community service, extracurricular this and that, etc., etc., are a requirement if they want to get into competitive colleges.


aly14 3 years, 7 months ago

just go to bed earlier! If you start school later, sports will start later, after school/sports jobs will start later, homework will start later... Its just changing the time that activities get done, not providing any extra sleep hours at all.


tange 3 years, 7 months ago

All other things equal, I wondered what students would choose, given the option of trading their 8:00-3:00 day for a 9:30-4:30 day or a 7:00 -2:00 day. I'm guessing the status quo would serve most.

It would be nice to be able to give students reduced-day or reduced-week incentives to raise their grades, but, while this might work for hundreds of students, it's not likely to work for thousands, and the added complexity of serving the few is not justified in light of current demands of serving the many. Nontraditional solutions (e.g., Virtual Schools) are available for the nontraditional few. Many, perhaps most, students are in need of existing structure to meet academic goals.

The problem doesn't seem to be lack of sleep time, at least as far as bell schedules are concerned, just lack of planning, which is an educational objective in itself. Early to bed; early to rise.


onceagain 3 years, 7 months ago

What's wrong with parents insisting kids go to bed 1 hour earlier?


friendlyjhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

A new approach would be better but right now public education is stuck with No Child Left Behind and teaching to the Standards of Excellence. These two objectives pretty much regulate the school day. Get rid of those cumbersome mandates and there will be time for more free thinking and scheduling.


orhs1963 3 years, 7 months ago

Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, that is a great idea of having school start later in the, wait a minute...but in order to attain the necessary mandatory teaching hours in a day how do you accommodate by not shifting back everything in a students daily life by that one hour?

Does not matter if the student is participating in athletics, working after school gets out, has the same amount of homework, ect. When you shift back the start of the "work day" all of the activities are shifted back the equal amount of time...Oh, I get are going to invoke going off of "daylight time" everyday where we can set back the clock one hour when we go to sleep.

You people with PhD's are so much brighter than the rest of us.


kernal 3 years, 7 months ago

Here's a thought. People used to get up earlier before daylight savings time. They went to bed when it was dark and got up when it was light. Three generations ago, people got a lot more sleep which is probably why so many of them lived longer and healthier lives that the overweight and sleep deprived people we have become. Sleep deprivation can lead to obesity and depression, as well as hinder a person's ability to a job well and commute without causing or having a wreck. Get it together, People!


Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

"How do you think your parents and grandparents ever got an education? "

That was then. Times change. It's okay to make rather simple adjustments. This is not earth shattering and will not cost extra tax dollars.

Yes we do need to keep an eye on the USD 497 BOE. Nonetheless I say some change may be what the doctor ordered.


Jane 3 years, 7 months ago

LOL! I am so so so happy my children are now adults and out of the public school system.


oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 7 months ago

merrill, they are going to get an education in Lawrence in bussing when the school board gets done.

Republicans and Democrats have nothing to do with education. It is about the parents and most all parents now 48 years and younger have been on dope, adderall, drugs ,divorced, and are nothing but a bunch of whining whackos, products of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and he was not a Republican.

America is going down the tube fast, Look at who makes the high grades in American schools, it's the children of hispanics, asians and india .

As for going to bed earlier, they cannot because they are busy sneaking out of the house, smoking pot high on the parents meds and trying to recover from the day before doing the same.

Early to bed , early to rise! merrill, how do you think your parents and grandparents ever got an education? did they do it by staying up late and showing up early? I doubt it. And didn't they get a good education? After all, they got u and u is smart , huh?


Jim Phillips 3 years, 7 months ago

"That's because republicans will not support public education in spite of their rhetoric."

And you are the reason why.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

What does it matter what time students attend school? It's getting the education that matters.

I say a new approach is necessary to get the most substance from the education and for our tax dollar. Education is important to new economic growth.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

"And no wonder America is the laughing stock of Asia and India who are cranking out students far more capable than any US students will ever be."

That's because republicans will not support public education in spite of their rhetoric. Not only that many other parts of the world finance higher education for their populations no matter where they choose to be educated.


oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 7 months ago

merrill and the pHds and the other whackos in the state of Kansas including the parents ALL need to go to bed earlier.

That's what most working people do who are employed privately. You see they are footing the bill for the State Health officer's salaries as well as the teachers in school districts.

When will this nonsense stop, they are all online anyway either hooking up with their teacher or coach .

And no wonder America is the laughing stock of Asia and India who are cranking out students far more capable than any US students will ever be.


BlackVelvet 3 years, 7 months ago

Have them go to bed a little earlier to get the necessary sleep??? Just a thought.


macon47 3 years, 7 months ago

what a crock, these kids have learn to roll out of bed the quicker they learn the sooner they can be worth something more that their own spit


Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

I rarely find it all that difficult to get around in Lawrence.

Tuesday and Thursday could be days for homework, study and exercise at school. All scheduled accordingly.

It's new thinking not necessarily that far from reality. USD 497 could make it work.


Benjamin Roberts 3 years, 7 months ago

How does someone earn a PhD yet not have the capability to solve such an easy problem.

Problem: Some teens do not get enough sleep to perform well in school. Test: Determine, by asking students and checking performance, which ones do not get enough sleep. Solution: Tell students that are identified in the test phase to go to bed earlier. Explain to parents that this is part of parenting - the part where you are not your teenager's friend.


RoeDapple 3 years, 7 months ago

"Nothing prepares students for real life except real life. Again this suggested new scheduling would be preparing students for the college and/or Vo-Tech daily routine."

Ummm . . . I thought "real life" was when you have a job, show up according to your employers schedule, including nights, weekends, swing shifts, overtime, etc. Oh, and a 5AM start time if required. Geez, if I thought "real life" was school I'd still be there . . .


Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

School hours: 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM Eliminates USD 497 from rush hour traffic.

Is there truly any need for students to be doing class per se 5 days a week?

Thinking outside the box:

Let's talk 3 days in class and two days to read and do written homework. The two days could be done in the classroom,study hall or at home contingent on a GPA of 3.2 or better.

Yes the the teaching staff would still be at school 5 days a week. No doubt they could find plenty to do. Grading papers,preparing for tests/lab experiments etc etc.

Teaching staff in fact puts in plenty of time after hours perhaps these two days would be helpful. Not only would they be doing themselves some benefit but also be there for students who have questions and/or need assistance with homework. Perhaps would eliminate the Wednesday afternoon off for students.

It would seem that two days available to assist students,if necessary, plus exercise time would be equally as beneficial as "class time".

The school library would be open as well for research work.

All in all this could in fact empower the student, feed comprehension, improve testing,prove to be quite productive in addition to a less stressful environment yet more interesting. Being able to devote whole days to home work and exercise during the school week surely would be beneficial.

This suggested new scheduling would be preparing students for the college and/or Vo-Tech daily routine.

Could it save revenue?

Could Tuesday and Thursday be days for study and exercise? Both of which are good for the brain cells?

Nothing prepares students for real life except real life. Again this suggested new scheduling would be preparing students for the college and/or Vo-Tech daily routine.


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