Study finds that homeschoolers get more sleep; suggests a later start in the morning for traditional high schools
In a recent study, researchers determined that teenagers who are homeschooled benefit from healthier sleep habits than those who go to private and public schools. The findings of the study provide additional evidence of teens’ altered biological clocks and support an argument for starting traditional high school later in the morning.
“The differences are stark,” said Lisa Meltzer, PhD, a sleep psychologist at National Jewish Health in Denver, and lead author of the study. “Across the country, public and private schools that have changed their high school start times see considerable benefits. Students are tardy less often and graduation rates are actually higher,” she said.
Whether your child is homeschooled or attends a public or private school, Meltzer offers advice to help your children develop healthier sleeping habits:
- Get all electronics out of the bedroom. TVs, computers, video games and phones are major distractions for teens and often delay sleep.
- Don’t look at any screens 30-60 minutes before bed time. Though turning off media is as simple as flipping a switch, the human brain does not work the same way. Being stimulated by media just before bed can make the brain too active to sleep.
- Set up family charging stations, where mom, dad and the kids plug in their phones at night so they are out of reach.
- Most importantly, set a consistent routine. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This one habit can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve the quality of sleep you get.
“Adolescents need nine hours of sleep a night and if they’re only getting seven hours, on average, by the end of the week they are a full ten hours of sleep behind schedule,” said Meltzer, “and that impacts every aspect of functioning.”