Are you getting your 8 to 10 hours of sleep?

Photo courtesy of Brain Balance Centers

Sleep is often an overlooked aspect of student well-being in schools. I don’t understand why because a good night’s sleep (8-10 hours for adolescents) is fundamental to maximizing one’s performance and mood. Adolescents in the US and around the world are chronically sleep-deprived (22% of teens say they sleep at least 8 hours per night according to a 2019 CDC study) mainly due to using their digital devices which are an irresistible stream of communication with friends and entertainment. I always thought that secondary schools should have sleep pods in schools for teenagers to take 20-minute naps during the day to refresh their brains and bodies.

Another aspect is the early starting time of schools. Teenagers’ circadian rhythm is different from adults with the most active brain times starting from mid-morning to late in the evening. I know my peak brain performance time is 7:00 AM, which differs from teens. I read this was a survival advantage for early humans. With teens more awake in the evenings and adults in the mornings, this offered maximum protection for vulnerable human groups resting in the middle of a savannah. Lisa Lewis in this Atlantic article, The State Finally Letting Teens Sleep In from June 8, 2022 discusses the impact of school schedules on the sleep of teens. The state of California is following the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that secondary schools start no earlier than 8:30 AM. The lack of proper sleep worsens mental health, grades, athletic performance, etc.

The Tashkent International School starts with an 8:20 AM homeroom and classes starting at 8:30 AM which is inline with best practices. However, we can do more as a school to promote better sleep habits with our teens. The IB curriculum is challenging and often teens are studying or completing projects instead of sleeping. I would like to give a workshop for our high school students about sleep during their Social and Emotional Learning times.

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