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New Study: Early morning school is the cause of sleep deprivation in Teens


Schools are thinking of plans to resume soon. As experts brainstorm to strategise a full-proof plan, some researchers have advised to start school later in the day. This rescheduling of school timings is a result of a new research finding. The study of “Association of Delaying School Start Time With Sleep Duration, Timing, and Quality Among Adolescents” has revealed that sleep deprivation in teens is because of the early morning school schedule.

This study found that delaying high school start times could extend adolescent school night sleep duration and lessen their need for catch-up sleep on weekends. These findings suggest that later start times could be a durable strategy for addressing population-wide adolescent sleep deficits.

Hectic schedule of students

If we revise a school day before the pandemic spread, the schools are generally started at around 8 AM which means that the child has to get up atleast 90 minutes before. A general sleep schedule among the teens was 6-7 hours of sleep during school days and around 8-9 hours during the weekends. While they catch up their sleep at weekends, the lack of sleep during 5 days is not at all recommended.

An impromptu solution that one can suggest is: Early to bed. Simple! However, early to bed is a fiction during a normal school day in this age. “It is impossible for the child to go to bed at 9 or 10 PM now,” says Prithvi Garg, a parent of a 13-year-old. “You see, the school hours end in afternoon which is followed by out of school, extra-curricular activities, school homework, projects, self study and outdoor play time with friends if time permits,” he adds.

“During the lockdown, the school meeting doesn’t start before 10 AM. Here, the child has the time to have enough sleep, wake up fresh and sharp to attend the school day,” says Girja Sharma, another parent.

Is it feasible to start the school later?

However, this suggestion is not favoured by all. “Well, if the school time is delayed, we will have these kids staying up even later than midnight. This will not help us not prepare them for the real world,” Avni Raheja, a parent states.

Education experts too argue that delaying the school schedule might not be feasible as major systems are arranged accordingly. For example, the bus timings, the infrastructure, etc. If the school is started later in the day, the sports grounds might need to be equipped with more lighting setup which will involve a lot of cost that can be used for security and sanitization of the campus.

Child’s sleep is the key to good health

However, Rachel Widome, an author of the study and an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Division of Epidemiology and Community Health argues, “When you see sleep as a resource that enables well-being of our children, it seems wrong to jump right back into a system that restricts it so severely.”

Preetam Kaur, a psychologist states, “We’re asking them to sacrifice so much already. They’re missing farewells, friends, sharing lunches and even a normal social life. The least we could do is let them sleep.”

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