Over the past few years there have been all kinds of reports looking at whether this should happen but is it a case of teenagers need to start school later or should they be going to bed earlier?
It’s a tough call. While there has been research to support that teenagers’ circadian rhythms are out of sync with school start times, we do know that the influence of technology over the latter few years has had a significant impact on bed times and sleep quality.
The growth of computers, TVs, video games, social media, and texting means not only are teenagers not switching off properly before bed but also that they’re staying up later to do these things. According to Dr Nanci Yuan, medical director of the Sleep Center at Lucile Packard’s Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, CA, social networking is the biggest culprit, with those using it before bedtime sleeping nearly an hour less on school nights compared to those who rarely connected online.
When you get into bed it is the darkness that helps to make you feel sleepy by releasing a hormone called melatonin that relaxes your body. When you sense light – and even the smallest amount of light such as the blue glow from your phone or tablet – your melatonin goes away and so does your sense of sleepiness.
Getting enough sleep allows teenagers to react more quickly to situations, have a more developed memory, learn more effectively and solve problems. Teenagers don’t always understand the importance of sleep which is why it is particularly important for parents to a) know how much sleep they should get and b) enforce an appropriate bedtime routine.
What do you think? Should teenagers start school later or do we need to go back to basics and take a look at bed time routines?