Sep 21, 2008

North Thurston shoves science aside

After tossing and turning all night in a Kennewick hotel--drunken neighbors, a concealed beeping cellphone, and snoring, all in conspiracy--I woke up at 7:17 this morning to browse the news. First up: The Olympian reports that, as a budget-saving measure, the North Thurston School District's high schools now start at 7:20, 35 minutes earlier than last year.

The initial comments are mostly uninformed and grumpy:
Wow, do you guys want some cheese with your whine? Get over it, kiddies (and parents). Go to bed 1/2 hour earlier instead of texting your friends. The world doesn't operate on a 9-5 schedule and the soon they learn that, the better.


Buck up!

(You too, OLYMPIAN. Got NEWS???)


Don't worry, little children. Once you get to college you'll only go to class for three to four hours a day and an early class is at 8:00 a.m.
More in that vein, but you get the point. Is it that simple? Kids shouldn't be coddled, adults have it tough, grow up and be a man, I walked uphill both ways in the snow naked and shoeless while memorizing Shakespeare just to improve my memory not because it was assigned?

No. If anything, this article understates the importance of sleep, for at least three reasons.

1. Continual sleep deprivation results not just in poor academic performance, but has been implicated in a range of mood disorders.

2. Sleep patterns aren't just based on when you go to bed and when you wake up. Circadian rhythms dictate ideal sleep times. Adolescents aren't just "night owls" because it's fun; their circadian rhythms are different from those of adults.

3. Adolescent brain development is a critical period, a massive reorganization of neural circuitry comparable in scale to the changes in infancy. Proper sleep is thus especially important for teens.

So, go ahead and call it whining, but realize that the facts aren't on your side. Or maybe you aren't getting enough sleep, crankypants?


Captain Princess said...

Do you happen to know when those rhythms change? I used to sleep an easy 12 hours, but I now can barely break 10.

Jim Anderson said...

The range, as I understand it, is 21-24. Somewhere in there, you become a neurological adult.