Published: April 15, 2016
Sleep? There’s a nap for that.
As sleep is commonly called “food for the brain”, sleepfoundation.com reports that a lack of sleep limits a student’s ability to learn, listen, concentrate, and solve problems. Lack of sleep also makes teenagers and adults more prone to pimples and other skin problems.
According to nationwidechildrens.org, sleep deprivation impacts a student’s mood, behaviour, cognitive ability, academic performance, and driving ability. Sleep allows a person’s brain to relax and take a break.
Health studies from the sleepfoundation.com show that a student needs eight to ten hours of sleep a night.
Yet according to the Chronicle’s Twitter poll, 59 percent of Mason High School students average four to six hours of sleep a night.
Junior Katie Kenniston averages two to three hours of sleep a night, and she said that her schoolwork and career aspirations are the main reasons for her loss of sleep.
“I think it’s just because I’m trying to build up the endurance of becoming an actor, and you don’t get a lot of sleep when you do that,” Kenniston said. “That’s why I don’t get a lot of sleep, but it’s also because of the work load from (my classes).”
Sophomore Christine Martin said that going to bed late leaves an impact on her learning and concentration throughout the school day.
“I’m really tired in all of my classes, and in my first bell I’m always trying not to fall asleep,” Martin said. “When lunch rolls around, I’m even more tired because I just ate.”
Martin is not the only student that feels tired throughout the day. Despite going to sleep at 9 p.m., sophomore Alise Cheeseman said she feels tired throughout the day, even if all of her homework is done.
“If I don’t get enough sleep, I can’t function very well at the beginning of the day,” Cheeseman said. “You need to be able to pay attention in class and get things done so you don’t have to worry about it later on.”
On March 8, the Indian Hill Exempted Village School District School Board voted to change the district’s start time from 7:35 a.m. to 8 a.m. for the 2016-2017 school year.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles said the main reason to move the start time was because the school district would like to give students the opportunity to have more sleep.
“Research would demonstrate there are significant benefits for adolescents attending middle school and high school to have later start times, that they are more engaged after 8:30 in the morning,” Miles said. “The research we examined identified academic outcomes, health outcomes, and behavioural outcomes.”
The brain is not fully awake until 8:30 a.m., and the closer students start class to 8:30 a.m., the more engaged students will be, Miles said. Indian Hill, however, will not yet push back the start time to 8:30 a.m. because the shift would disrupt the students.
“We didn’t quite get to the 8:30 a.m. recommended time, but it is a start,” Miles said. “We thought that the significant shift to 8:30 a.m. would be a disruption to our students, our athletics, and our extracurricular activity schedule.”
With work and other activities taking up time, superintendent Dr. Gail Kist-Kline said teens most likely take away their sleep time because they have other priorities.
“Sleep does not always get the respect it deserves,” Kist-Kline said. “Good health means getting a good night’s sleep–and this is probably even more important when the brain is still developing.”
Both pros and cons must be evaluated before Mason can think about moving the school start time of the district to later, Kist-Kline said, but it may be a possibility in the future.
“As a community we might consider this option, but I’d also want to have a lot of community conversation about all the items that would take to make that happen and about how we prioritize sleep,” Kist-Kline said. “If we move back the start times, but teens just go to bed later, we haven’t really captured the hour. I know that many teens (and adults) may not love the idea of a set bedtime, but consistently enforcing a 10 p.m. bedtime is probably the very best way to change sleep habits so that we all feel ready to tackle the day.”