Health

Why You're Not Getting Enough Sleep

The average American doesn't get enough sleep per night, and that problem is especially pronounced among teens and young adults.

One possible solution to the sleep deprivation issue is to fundamentally transform school and work schedules, researchers at Oxford University say.

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In order to account for the varied sleeping patterns of people between the ages of 10 and 55, school and work should start anywhere between 1 and 3 hours later than the current standard (7:00-9:00 AM): For 10-year-olds, school should start no earlier than 8:30 AM, for 16-year-olds, 10:00 AM, and for 18-year-olds, 11:00 AM or later.

That's the conclusion of a recent study published in the journal Learning, Media and Technology. Researchers theorized that making young people wake up too early was compromising their health and limiting academic performance, so they're conducting a national experiment at schools throughout the U.K. to determine if later start times would be an appropriate change to the present system.

"At the age of 10 you get up and go to school and it fits in with our nine-to-five lifestyle," Paul Kelly, the study's lead author, told the Guardian. "When you are about 55 you also settle into the same pattern. But in between it changes a huge amount, and, depending on your age, you really need to be starting around three hours later, which is entirely natural."

To test the theory, Kelly and his colleagues have orchestrated a country-wide experiment that will look at how different school schedules affect academic performance. One-hundred randomly selected schools will be given new schedules, and an independent group of researchers will analyze the relationship between the policy changes and standardized test scores.

The results won't be published until September 2018, but Kelly believes the results will demonstrate what numerous organizations have already speculated: kids aren't getting enough sleep.

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"In line with Kelley's advice, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools should aim for a start time of no earlier than 8:30 AM, and the U.S. Department of Health recently published a study in favor of later start times," Business Insider reported. "Research suggests that later school start times can improve daytime sleepiness and mood, but this has not been studied on a large scale in a randomized trial in the UK until now."