Emsellem, Dr. Helene A., M.D., Whiteley, Carol. "13 Making Changes in Your School and Community." Snooze... or Lose!: 10 "No-War" Ways to Improve Your Teen's Sleep Habits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006.
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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits
Later for Excellence in Education Proposal. The group, whose goal is to move Fairfax County, Virginia, middle and high schools to later start times, was founded in 2003 by cochairs Phyllis Payne and Sandy Evans. Payne, a public health educator, and Evans, a journalist, were introduced by a mutual friend who knew of their common interest in the problems that stem from early school start times.
Phyllis Payne’s interest in the issue actually started a number of years before she met Sandy Evans. Even though her own children were in elementary school at the time, she was concerned to see high school students waiting in the dark for the school bus every morning. Worried for them, she also projected ahead to when her own kids would have to wait in the dark. To all of that she added the fact that she wasn’t an early riser, and looked ahead, with dread, to the time that she would be getting up well before dawn to get her own kids out the door.
Still another way that sleep deprivation negatively affects teens is inwhat’s called “school engagement,”which the National Center on Effective Secondary Schools defines asbeing invested in and committed tolearning. With as many as 40 percent of tenth, eleventh, and twelfthgraders working 20 or more hoursa week, and with teens’ natural alerttime being later in the day and inthe evening, sleep researchers suchas Mary Carskadon worry that alarge number of students will cometo prefer work, where they feelawake and good and are makingmoney, over school. A study is nowbeing done to look at the link between sleep loss, school engagement, and academic and emotionalfunctioning in adolescents in orderto foster greater school engagement. School engagement is especially important in urban areas because dropout rates tend to behigher there.
As she thought about the problem, she began to read and learn more about it. She discovered that safety and what she calls “quality of life issues” weren’t the only concerns. Because kids had to catch the bus so early, they had to wake up very early, most likely after going to sleep fairly late; teens were becoming sleep deprived, and sleep deprivation was harming them in a multitude of ways.
When Payne and Evans met, both had come to the conclusion that teenagers needed more sleep and that an important way to make that happen was to have schools start later in the morning. They also realized that sleep deprivation was a community-wide problem and that