An article in this week's New York magazine examines the effects that systematic sleep deprivation has on kids. (Hint: not good) But here's the part of "Snooze or Lose" that prompted me to sit up:
Obstacles to later start times are numerous. Having high schools start earlier often allows buses to first deliver the older students, then do a second run with the younger children. This could mean doubling the size of the bus fleet. Teachers prefer driving to school before other commuters clog the roads. Coaches worry their student athletes will miss games because they’re still in class at kickoff time.
Dr. Mark Mahowald, a University of Minnesota professor who runs a sleep clinic, has been at the center of many school start-time debates, and he dismisses those claims. “Of all the arguments I’ve heard over school start-times, not one person has argued that children learn more at 7:15 a.m. than at 8:30.”
In other words: we're asking kids to do crazy, overloaded schedules and then impairing their ability to function because a different timetable's not convenient for us?
Speaking on a purely anecdotal level: I learned the hard way that I do my best work when I'm getting at least seven hours of shut-eye nightly. It's too bad I was so slow to pick up the lesson -- I blame years of substandard sleep.
The sidebar to the article, "How to Get Kids to Sleep More," is helpful for grown-ups who need to fix their sleep patterns too.