It is very clear from science that sleep is important for health, considering that bad habits can even lead to an increase in chronic diseases. With that in mind, experts opine that schools should start classes a little later, as many start activities at 7 am, which can hurt young people.
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The idea, then, would be to start classes at 8:30 am, as the US has been doing since last July, in the state of California: a law obliges schools to only start activities for high school students from of that time. In arriving at this decision, local authorities took into account scientific evidence of how the biological changes of puberty affect sleep and school performance.
On the last 5th, inclusive, a study published in the JAMA Network Open pointed out that the adolescent public slept 75 minutes more during the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, due to the rise of virtual classes. It turns out that this more elaborate sleep resulted in a better quality of life, and the consumption of alcohol and caffeine decreased during this period.
“Our findings indicate the benefit of starting school later in the morning, so young people can sleep more. School closures allowed students to better align their sleep schedules,” the study noted at the time.
In an interview with the newspaper O Globo, neuroscientist Fernando Louzada pointed out that teenagers need more sleep than adults, an average of nine hours, but cited a phenomenon at this age called sleep phase delay, a natural tendency to delay sleep sleep and wake times too. So most teens sleep far less than that during school days.
The specialist warns that, even if the teenager delays the bedtime a little, it does not overcome the gain in waking up time, and the balance is mostly positive. “But of course this measure cannot occur in isolation, it needs to come together with sleep education measures, such as for people to avoid stimuli at night. But without delaying school schedules, it is not possible to achieve this goal, which is to enable students to sleep what they need”, he points out.
Louzada mentions a series of so-called sleep hygiene measures, ranging from the conditions of the environment, how to ensure that it is as quiet, dark and comfortable as possible, to habits such as regular physical activity, proper nutrition, avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, in the hours that precede sleep and reduce the light stimulation of screens during this period. All of this can be put into practice in pursuit of better sleep.
Source: O Globo, JAMA Network Open