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Apparently they don't "like" it in the morning

Jesus Fricken Christ, I'm up at the crack of dawn cooking up another issue of the Spritzler Report and need to hear about some pansy-assed kid who can't drag their sorry ass out of bed.

Starting School Before 8 a.m. Can Be Harmful to Teens, Sleep Scientists Say

One possible way to help teenagers facing rising mental health issues: start school later


By Alex Janin, WSJ

Updated Sept. 27, 2022 3:19 pm ET


Moving high-school start times later could help teenagers cope with mental health issues coming out of the pandemic, say a growing number of sleep researchers and psychologists.


Teens have a biological need to go to bed and wake up later, due to hormonal changes that occur during puberty, research indicates. However, U.S. public high-school start times have been inching earlier over the past 15 years, and an increasing percentage of U.S. teens are getting fewer than the minimum eight hours doctors say they need.


High-school students who attend schools with later start times are more likely to get sufficient sleep, according to a recent study with more than 5,000 student respondents published in the journal Sleep.


Teens who don’t get enough sleep are at heightened risk of mental health and behavioral challenges, researchers and mental health professionals say.


“Shorter sleep makes it harder to regulate your emotions, which are already going through intense fluctuations during the adolescent period,” says Jessica Hamilton, who researches adolescent sleep, social media and suicide risk at Rutgers University. “We are in a teen public health crisis and sleep is a major risk factor.”


Between 2007 and 2017, the share of public U.S. high schools that started before 7:30 a.m. increased from 8.8% to 10.4%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.


The percentage of U.S. high-school students who don’t get enough sleep—fewer than eight hours—grew from 69% to 78% between 2009 and 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


When adolescents enter puberty, their circadian rhythms start to shift later. Hormonal changes delay the daily secretion of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. The shift, known as a “sleep phase delay,” also results in the slower buildup of pressure that makes people feel sleepier as the day progresses.


The circadian rhythm continues to shift later over the course of puberty and peaks in “lateness” between age 18 and 22 depending on sex, according to sleep experts and researchers.


If school start times don’t shift with the circadian rhythm of adolescents, the window of sleep they can get effectively shortens, making them less likely to get the eight to 10 hours they need, says Dr. Tiffany Yip, a developmental psychologist at Fordham University.


Dr. Hamilton believes that delaying school start times could help reduce teen suicide rates over time. A recent study she co-wrote found that, among a population of young adults experiencing depression, shorter sleep during one night led to a greater likelihood of suicidal ideation the next day.


Some school districts have already moved start times later, citing in part the potential benefits to teens’ mental and physical health. In a law that went into effect this summer, California became the first state in the country to require all of its public middle and high schools to begin no earlier than 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., respectively. New Jersey and New York are considering similar legislation.


Violetta Mordock, a 14-year-old freshman at Tesoro High School in Orange County, Calif., describes herself as “not an early riser—at all.” Her school shifted later to an 8:30 a.m. start time this year. The change only grants her about 15 more minutes of sleep each morning, but still makes a difference in her mood, she says.


She says she feels more upbeat and inclined to catch up with her friends. And she has stopped nodding off in the class before lunch period, and has time to eat breakfast before school, she adds.


“I think we’re just happier in the mornings than we would normally be,” she says.


Tim Seymour, the superintendent of Lake Placid Central School District in upstate New York, says he has noticed lower rates of discipline and suspension and higher rates of attendance since pushing the start time from 7:20 a.m. to 8:05 a.m. this fall.


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A similar shift in New Canaan, Conn., means students are no longer being picked up by school buses in the dark, says New Canaan Public Schools superintendent Bryan Luizzi.


“In the morning, the cafeteria has more kids in it who are sitting and talking together,” says Dr. Luizzi. “They seem more alert and attentive and ready to be engaged.”


Nicole Christian-Brathwaite, a child psychiatrist in Boston, says she has occasionally negotiated with schools for exceptions to early start times on behalf of some young patients.


“I’ve seen plenty of children with sleep deprivation who present with symptoms that mimic ADHD, depression and anxiety,” says Dr. Christian-Brathwaite. “Often, when we are able to get them into an effective sleep cycle, many of those symptoms decrease.”


Write to Alex Janin at alex.janin@wsj.com

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