Resident Mary Hamaker researched Algonquin students’ sleep deprivation and likely harm.
Based on what she found, the APTO is supporting her committee’s work to address the problem. The goal is to shift schedules so ARHS students can sleep later in the morning.
To do this, the committee is looking for parents to help develop a workable proposal. (Click here to learn how to get involved.)
Hamaker studied published research on teen sleep deprivation and looked at how other schools in state have begun to address it. (Click here for her detailed written report.)
As a mother, Hamaker is concerned about the impact that reduced sleep has on teens:
the consequences of too little sleep substantially interfere not only with academic performance, but raise a host of other health problems.
Hamaker says that our district’s informal survey found ARHS teens are getting an average of only 3-4 hours sleep per night.
That figure isn’t statistically validated. But simple math shows that many ARHS teens are restricted to 2+ hours less sleep per day than their bodies need.
- Doctors recommend 9 hours sleep for this age in which bodies and brains are still developing.
- Research shows that adolescents brains aren’t ready to power down until 11 pm.
- To meet the bus schedule, many need to rise before 6 am.
- Research shows that making up for lost sleep on the weekend doesn’t work and has negative effects
A few years ago, I heard about the dangers of inexperienced teens driving while tired due to poor reaction times. Now, Hamaker has woken me up to other serious impacts of teen fatigue.
Tired students’ academics suffer due to their reduced concentration and lessoned ability to solve complex problems.
Some people may think this issue is about over-scheduled, over-achievers. Hamaker pointed out to me that it is about everyone, including “bringing the bottom up.”
She reports that one principal credited increased sleep time with a 50% drop in D & F grades for the school.
Beyond that, there are many physical and psychological impacts. They include:
- emotional/mood swings
- impulsive behavior
- increased anxiety and depression
- substance abuse
- obesity and metabolic problems
- sports injuries
- lower self esteem
So what are the obstacles to making a change? What pops easily to mind is the K-8 buses and the sports schedules.
Hamaker tells me that at least 6 other schools in state already overcame those obstacles. We can learn from their efforts.
Some flipped and adjusted bus schedules in service of the goal. And one principal told her that neighboring towns had been very accommodating to changes in the sports schedule.
Hamaker is leading a committee to draft a proposal to present to the school committee. She is looking for more input from Northborough and Southborough parents. (She says that the administration is supportive but parent support is necessary to drive a big change.)
For anyone who thinks that logistics are too difficult to manage, Hamaker responds:
It is paramount that we place the health of our children first so that they have the best opportunity to achieve to their true potential.
For more information, visit AlgonquinStartTime.Weebly.com (the project website created by Julia Lewkowic, Algonquin class of 2015).