There is a study floating around about starting school classes later in the day due to the students being too tired to concentrate.
I take issue with simplifying the issue of sleep, time, and clocks. Here’s the rub. Not everyone’s biorhythms are the same. I have a friend who is awake and working on her computer by 5 in the morning. She goes to bed before 9. People who live on farms are up at the cock’s crow to do chores. Many outdoors people are early risers. They also stay up late and sleep the sleep of the well exercised.
I know a person who is a true night owl. Loves to work the night shift at a hospital, sleep during the day. He’ll always be welcome wherever there is a graveyard shift. And he keeps the same schedule on his days off. Well, he varies it a bit to spend time with friends, but he has no trouble sleeping during the day.
I am usually alert and awake when I roll out of bed. But I need a nap around 1or 2. That’s when my energy tanks and I almost collapse. It hurts to be up and doing something. But after the nap, I’m good to go. How late I stay up depends on what I am doing.
I use to feel I was being lazy when I took a nap. But I did live in Mexico for three years, and siestas are normal. A mid-afternoon nap gets you through the hot part of the day. So I guess I don’t nap, I take a siesta.
For some people, their sleep cycles are natural to them, others have developed a sleep rhythm due to external forces like work or school. Some people are alert when they pop out of bed. Others take longer to wake up, get the synapses working. Some want to sit, sip coffee, and read the newspaper. Others are hot to trot — shower, brush teeth, hop into clothes, and face the world while singing an aria.
But back to students and classes. I believe that many kids who cannot wake up for morning classes are playing on electronic devices and thus don’t sleep well – recent studies have shown that working on computers or watching tv before bedtime makes it difficult for people to sleep – it’s a neurological thing. Reading a book or doing something physical doesn’t cause the same problem. But that’s a paper book, not on a tablet, nook, etc. It is the media that is the issue.
And changing the time of classes won’t change the mind of a teen. If the school day starts at 8, teens will be up until 2am. If it starts at 10, they will be up until 4am. Either way, they will be tired when the first class starts.
And then there is another way to look at it. If I am here in Portland, Oregon what time should a person in New York go to bed? What time should a person in Boston get up and go to school?
The whole thing about time and clocks is time is natural, clocks are artificial. If you are on the West Coast and get up at 8, imagine you are really living in New York and you slept in, at least according to the clock.