There has been much debate in Canada about whether high schools should start later so adolescents can get more sleep. Some people argue that if school started later, teens would just go to bed later. But a new analysis of information about 30,000 students suggests that where the schools start later, teens do indeed get more sleep.
Many teens don’t get enough sleep
“This is important because in Canada, one out of three teenagers at least don’t get enough sleep,” says Genevieve Gariepy, a post-doctorate fellow at McGill University. “Kids that don’t get enough sleep have a harder time at school, they have a hard time focussing, concentrating. It also affects their emotional well-being. It affects their health and it also increases the number of accidents that they get into. So it’s important for our teens to get the sleep they need.”Listen
Sleep before 11pm ‘becomes difficult’
Gariepy says that as children go through puberty their natural circadian rhythms change and get delayed by two or three hours. It becomes difficult, she says, for them to fall asleep before 11p.m. Where school starts early, they have to fight biology to make it on time.
Gariepy knows it’s difficult to change school start times because that involves parents, teachers, and administrators. But she hopes her study will get the conversation going and get school boards or individual schools to consider starting high school classes later.