A small change that will reduce teen car accidents 22%; How to fix the world #8

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Drowsiness and fatigue cause more than 50,000 traffic accidents with young drivers each year.

What if a small change could reduce these accidents, increase student grades, reduce ADHD symptoms, reduce depression, and reduce moodiness? You would do anything for your kids, right?

In the last 30 years kids have lost an hour of sleep a day. The assumption has been that older kids need less sleep than younger kids. But according to experts, between puberty and their early twenties, adolescents need 9.2 hours of sleep a night. More than a quarter of these teens are getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep a day. Most of the rest, although better, are still not getting enough to perform optimally.

The simple change of high school start times to an hour later has been shown to reduce many of these issues. For all kids, parents should also do what they can to increase the amount of sleep. Together, these approaches can make a huge difference. But due to budget reasons, and stubbornness, most school districts are resistant to a later start time. And kids left to themselves will burn the midnight oil. Changing sleep habits is difficult. The book Snooze or Lose has some strategies that may help.

Further reading:

  1. http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/hot-topics/backgrounder-later-school-start-times
  2. http://healthomg.com/2011/05/05/early-school-start-times-raise-risk-of-teen-car-crashes/
  3. http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct01/sleepteen.aspx
  4. Book by Dr. Helene A. Emsellem Snooze… or Lose! (2006)
  5. New York Magazine article by Po Bronson, Snooze or Lose (2007)
  6. http://4lakidsnews.blogspot.com/2010/08/later-shool-start-times-from-zzzzs-to.html
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