Arianna Huffington is launching a national sleep revolution. She heard about the success of Seattle Public School in deciding to shift to later start times for middle and high school. Huffington Post contacted me and invited me to blog on this topic. I’ll continue to post my pieces here as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to like and follow.
Arianna will be visiting Seattle soon and the national spotlight will be on us for this very simple but significant change. We’re now the largest school district in the US to adjust start times so that teens can get the sleep they need. The research on this is so undeniable that districts across the world are considering it, or doing it.
Seattle School Board made this decision in response to a group of parents, physicians and sleep experts who have been moving it forward for as long as ten years. We knew there would be many logistical challenges and some costs. But based on the consistency of the research we decided this was possibly the most cost effective way to support all of our students. The benefits of adequate sleep do more than anything else to enhance academic success by improving mental, physical and emotional well-being. And there is virtually nothing that can compensate for lack of sleep. This singular change will probably increase the effectiveness of all other efforts to improve the quality of education our students receive.
Most teens are sleep deprived because of early start times, and come to school without the mental capacity they would have with an additional hour of sleep. Many adolescents cannot fall asleep early because of hormonal changes in their brains. It’s not their fault, or the fault of parents or devices. It’s a chemical reality that cannot be altered. So early bed time is not a solution. The only solution is later start time. The research is so compelling that it’s virtually impossible to ignore. This is a change all schools will need to make sooner or later. We are simply on the leading edge. As we work through the logistics and uncover the costs districts around the world will be watching. I will continue to blog as we go.