The Minister of Education lacks knowledge about adolescent sleep

The Minister of Education lacks knowledge about adolescent sleep
The Chronicle authors write that Education Minister Tony Brenna (AP) should listen to what young people themselves are going through. The photo was taken last fall.

Several studies show that starting classes later has beneficial effects. Pupils get more sleep, better mental health, better grades and less absenteeism.

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See below for the names of the chronicle authors.

In the “debate” on NRK on June 1 was one of the topics School start time. High school students from several parts of the country pointed to research showing that young adults sleep too little, and that poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of mental disorders and poor grades.

The school’s pupils also pointed to research documenting that starting school later in the morning has positive effects.

On the other hand, Education Minister Tony Brenna (AP) did not seem receptive. She claimed it was just a matter of going to bed early and waking up early, and then sleep would settle.

Here, unfortunately, the minister shows a lack of understanding of what happens to sleep and circadian rhythms during adolescence.

Listen to the youth

The pupils of the school seemed up-to-date and knowledgeable. Therefore, we recommend that the minister listen to what the young people themselves are experiencing.

The research referred to was carried out, among others, in our research environment at the University of Bergen and the National Center for Sleep Medicine at the Hoechland University Hospital.

So here we will present what our studies as well as other international studies document on sleep in youth and the effect of starting school later.

Lack of sleep

A number of surveys document that pupils in secondary schools sleep very little. In Norway, the average is about 6.5 hours With sleep on weekdays. This is well below the recommended 8 to 9 hours for this age group.

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The fact that young people sleep very little is confirmed by the fact that young people sleep on weekends. In other words, they are trying to make up for what was lost.

This results in young adults getting up late on weekends, on average After 11 o’clock. This means that the circadian rhythm changes by many hours each weekend, and this leads to major problems falling asleep at the required time on a Monday night.

Therefore the sleep from one night to Monday is short for most of the young men, and so they are very sleepy or tired at school. It is relatively clear that lack of sleep affects school performance.

It can cause and worsen mental health problems

In addition, we see that many young people suffer from psychological problems.

Lots of research has finally shown that a lack of sleep and a lack of sleep can both cause and worsen mental health problems.

youth with Late sleep phaseThat is, young adults who sleep late and struggle to get up in the morning report significantly more symptoms of anxiety and depression, worse grades, and more smoking and alcohol use than young adults with less change in circadian rhythm.

biologically determined changes

This has been well documented the changes in sleep and circadian rhythm during adolescence. These changes are largely biologically determined and are clearly linked to the development of puberty.

There are complex mechanisms involved. Typically, as young adults go through puberty, they will experience a gradual delay in their circadian rhythm—they become Type B people (in childhood, most are Type A people).

The same is also seen in other mammals as they become sexually mature.

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The circadian-clock hormone melatonin is secreted later in the evening in young men than in young men. Therefore, young adults go to bed later in the evening than they did when they were younger, and later than would often be desirable.

With school starting time so early, they struggle to get enough sleep before the next school day.

The brain is not ready for sleep

The fact that young people may be on social media, drinking caffeine, or doing school work in the evening does of course not improve the situation.

We nonetheless claim, on the basis of Research based knowledgethat the biological delay of the circadian rhythm is what starts the vicious cycle.

Telling young people with such sleep problems to go to bed early has been documented to be ineffective. The brain is simply not ready for sleep, and they stay awake.

Starting the study later has beneficial effects

What can be done to improve conditions for young people? Here comes the time to start school.

Several studies, mostly from the USA, show that later onset has occurred beneficial effects. Pupils get more sleep, better mental health, better grades and less absenteeism.

We recently published data from Norwegian secondary schools showing that students who started school later slept more the night before.

the study Show that bedtime is the same no matter when students start school the next morning.

But will starting school later always be better?

One concern some have is that starting classes later will mean that over time students go to bed later, so spinning wins go up. And if school starts late in the morning, the last lesson often ends later.

This can have consequences for after-school recreational activities, such as training, as well as social and cultural activities.

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The research project begins in the fall

Together with the Westland County Council, we have developed a research project that will be launched in the fall, where the impact of starting the study later will be examined over time.

For the project to be practically feasible, we had to make modifications that were acceptable to the schools that would participate.

We have chosen to delay the start of classes by two hours on Monday morning and one hour on Tuesday morning. The rest of the week is school starting as usual.

Such a relatively simple change in schedule can be made without changing the end of school in the afternoon. However, we think this will make the transition from the weekend easier for students and provide more and better sleep on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Whether such an action would have positive effects on mood, grades, school absences, etc. is something we will examine over time.

considerations in the schedule

As academics, we are interested in documenting the effects of these measures – both positive and negative.

Before later commencement is introduced in Norwegian schools, we believe that good and comprehensive scientific studies are needed. It is important to have an open mind and assess the effects accurately.

If the study shows that pupils sleep more and better, and that this leads to better mental health, better grades, less truancy and dropouts, young people deserve to take this into account when designing schedules.

  • Bjorn Bjorvatn

    Department of Global Health and Community Medicine, University of Bergen, and the National Center for Sleep Medicine, Hokland University Hospital

  • Lynn N. Evanger

    Department of Global Health and Community Medicine, University of Bergen

  • Engfield W Saxwig

    National Center for Sleep Medicine, Hokland University Hospital

  • Ståle Pallesen

    National Center for Sleep Medicine, Hochland University Hospital, and Department of Social Psychology, University of Bergen

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

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