Should Teenagers Wake Up at 7 AM?

December 3, 2019

 

Is it healthy for teens to wake up early for school?

 

We all know that teenagers are known for staying up late at night. We also know that most schools start at 8AM, and as a result, children and teenagers have to wake up at around 7AM, if not earlier. This often leads to these young adults sleeping during classes and not performing to their full potential. It is easy to blame them and their phones for staying up, however, there is a biological cause for this stereotype.

 

A study at the University of Munich in 2004 has suggested that puberty changes our internal clock  during the teenage years because of phase delay. This means that teenagers go from sleeping at 9PM to sleeping at 11PM. This leads to the body wanting to sleep for longer and later in the morning. Their biological clock doesn’t align with the busy schedule of a teen leading to a lack of agility and awareness. 

 

In total, a teenager should get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Considering that schools usually start between 7:30 and 8:30 and that the average teenager goes to bed at 11PM, teenagers sleep an average of six hours a night - two hours less than the minimum. 

 

Lack of sleep can lead to drowsiness, lack of awareness, poor academic performance and absence of creativity. All of these symptoms seriously affect their ability to perform well at school, never mind their mental health and general well-being. Social life and extracurricular activities such as sports also take a hit. 

 

How do we prevent this?


There are many ways to prevent being deprived of sleep, such as keeping a regular sleeping schedule, taking early afternoon naps and avoiding caffeine, drugs and alcohol. However, the most permanent and effective way to avoid this is changing school times to later hours. This would lead to teenagers being able to sleep according to their internal and biological clock which would ultimately improve their academic and social abilities.

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Geneva, Switzerland