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Teens need 8-10 hours of sleep each night to be at their best, but few come close to that amount. It is often due to factors beyond their control, such as school hours and homework levels.
Many schools are paying attention and making changes to help teens sleep better.
Even before the addition of COVID-19, teen stress and anxiety were at record levels. According to his 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019, 36.7% of him in high school said he felt sad or hopeless, and nearly 19% said he had seriously considered suicide. I answered.
Meanwhile, teens are sleeping at record lows, with only 22% of high school students getting at least eight hours of sleep on an average weeknight, according to a CDC study. . Not getting enough sleep is a leading cause of anxiety and other serious mental health problems.
With growing awareness of the importance of teen sleep, schools across the country (and around the world) are delaying school start times to teen-friendly times, following the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading medical organizations. I’m here. Public health medical institutions.
Soon, California will become the first (and only) state in the nation to enact statewide requirements for public secondary schools, and the largest agency to do so. These changes require students to be in school by 8:00 a.m. for middle school and 8:30 a.m. for high school, and will go into effect in July 2022.
Meanwhile, some schools are making additional modifications to address teen sleep and stress.
Changes Schools Are Making to Help Teens Get More Sleep and Reduce Stress in Teens
Implementing block scheduling
Instead of a traditional schedule where students attend all classes every day, block scheduling is a way to change the frequency and duration of classes. For example, a student might attend half the class on one day and the other half the next day, but the class duration is longer. Block schedules “may not reduce the amount of homework you have to do hourly, but it does reduce the number of subjects you have to do each night,” says Dennis, co-founder of Challenge Success, an organization that advises schools. Pope says. , students, and parents about a more effective approach to education that incorporates student well-being. Students have the same amount of homework, but “in terms of brain efficiency, it’s better to focus on fewer subjects,” she says.
Two schools that have worked on Challenge Success and have since transitioned to a block schedule are Burlingame Middle School, a public school in Burlingame, CA, and Notre Dame High School, a parochial school in Belmont, CA.
Ease the burden on students
Another option Challenge Success recommends is to reassess your overall homework level. This includes limiting the number of Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors classes students take. This is an option increasingly being introduced by many schools, including Beckman High School, a public school in Irvine, California, which limits freshmen to two AP or honors classes, with one additional class each year. Students wishing to add another advanced level class must sign a waiver (similar to their parent). This change is one of several ways schools have put in place to reduce stress levels and help students get more sleep after consulting with Challenge Success.
Bidford High School, a public school in Bidford, Maine, focused on teenage sleep and limited sports and extracurricular activities in the morning and evening. A change was made in 2016 with the start time changed from 7:15am to 8:30am. “All morning practices are off-limits during the school year,” says school district superintendent Jeremy Ray. (I used to practice swimming and ice hockey at 5am.)
Evening practices are set to end at 9pm, but Ray admits that the game could end later due to travel time. Still, “I think 95% of our season he’s been working within those parameters,” he says.
Using the schedule simulator
At Woodson High School, a public school in Fairfax, Virginia, student programmers launched an online schedule simulator in 2017. This allows students to estimate the total time spent on school-related activities. The simulator is based on data collected by teacher and student polls and includes classes, sports and school clubs.
shadow the student
As part of the planning process, some teachers even choose to spend a day at school to experience what school is like from a student’s perspective. These “shadow days” can be good reality checks, Pope and her co-authors said in a 2015 book. Overload and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful ChildrenAs one middle school teacher quoted in the book summarizes: The students had a lot of things to do each day and it was hard for the teachers to try to be the students that day and follow them. ”
Shadow days and schedule simulators may not be commonplace in every school, but there are still ways for students and their families to apply these same principles when planning class schedules. Pope suggests that students discuss with their peers to get an idea of the workload in various classes, create a mock schedule listing all suggested classes and extracurricular activities, and make sure they get enough sleep. doing.
Share information about teen sleep
Regardless of which strategy your school uses, there are additional approaches that can help set you up for success. He is educating teenagers and the wider community about the importance of sleep.
One initiative, Sleep 101, was first rolled out at the college level and is now expanding to middle and high schools. This content was developed in collaboration with the Sleep Health Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Available free from Let’s Sleep, it’s designed for teachers to integrate into state health curricula, said project his manager Pallas Ziporyn.
“In California, Sleep 101 is gearing up to delay state start times,” adds Joy Wake, California outreach coordinator for Let’s Sleep. “Education is a key factor in promoting awareness of how important sleep is for teens.”
Ask about the guidelines teen schools have in place to address teen stress and workload issues such as sleep. For resources such as the time scheduling worksheet, visit the Challenge Success resources page.
For teachers and administrators
Read how to manage effective homework and student workloads on the Challenge Success blog. Effective Homework Practices During and Beyond COVIDFor more information on how teen sleep information can be incorporated into school activities and classroom teaching, see Let’s Sleep.
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