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Why We Don’t Have School the Day After Spring Forward

Regardless of one’s opinions about Daylight Savings Time (DST) and whether it should or should not exist, it is coming. On Sunday, March 14th.  Brace yourself and set a reminder on your phone. We will all lose one hour in the day, and for many of us, that means losing an hour of sleep. 

We’ve all seen the side effects of not getting enough sleep or operating on a skewed cycle: We feel groggy which could lead to irritability, we don’t have a lot of energy and therefore don’t get a lot done, and waking up to darkness when there used to be light through the curtains can be jarring and even depressing. (There is also some evidence of an increase in heart attacks, workplace injuries, miscarriages, and traffic accidents during the days immediately following the start of DST.)

To survive the potential agony of missing an alarm, rushing to school, falling asleep in class or crashing in the afternoon, we say “take this day to adjust.” At Mountain Sun Community School, we incorporate a Teacher Work Day into our calendar each year to account for this bizarre day because science shows that the odds are not in our favor to be productive.

We Need Sleep To Live

A consistent sleep schedule sets us up for success. For parents, we learn this acutely by living with a newborn. Getting enough sleep is important for ALL of us, as is giving our bodies consistent signals for when to sleep and when to be awake. 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following minimum and maximum hours of regular sleep for children during a 24-hour period:

  • 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
  • 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
  • 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
  • 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
  • 13-18 years: 8-10 hours
  • Adults: 7-9 hours

“If we sleep too little, we become unable to process what we’ve learned during the day and we have more trouble remembering it in the future,” says a sleep expert from Johns Hopkins

We need to have a clear head to be able to assess the world around us, interpret our own emotions, gather information, and make decisions. Without this ability, we could make a choice at any point during the day that costs us or someone else’s life, hence the importance of a good night’s rest to our overall health. And the circadian rhythm of our sleep-wake cycle that we hear so much about emphasizes to our bodies the time during a 24-hour period when we need to be making those decisions versus resting.

Children & Sleep

We should continue to be especially conscious of the effects of sleep on our children. According to the Sleep Foundation, “the American Medical Association, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the American Academy of Pediatrics consider chronic sleep loss in adolescents to be a public health problem that is a risk factor for…mental health problems, as well as more immediate problems such as car crashes and sports injuries.” 

And the CDC says that “adolescents who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight; not engage in daily physical activity; suffer from depressive symptoms; engage in unhealthy risk behaviors such as drinking, smoking tobacco, and using illicit drugs; and perform poorly in school.”

Teenagers face an additional hurdle: getting up early in the morning can be excruciating. That’s because their brains aren’t designed to get up that early! As the Sleep Foundation again points out, “because of the biological delay in their sleep-wake cycle, many teens simply aren’t able to fall asleep early enough to get eight or more hours of sleep and still arrive at school on time.” The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC agree: the majority of schools start too early for teens to get the sleep they need. They have both advocated for an 8:30a school start time or later. (Mountain Sun uses this tactic and starts the day at 8:30a.)

We strive to set our community members up for personal success, which includes our children and their caregivers. If no one – students and teachers alike – is going to come to school refreshed and ready to learn, then we say it’s not the best use of their time. We encourage families to give themselves this day of grace if they can, for the sake of everyone’s overall well-being today and in the future.

See you on Tuesday!

Just in case…

Here are a couple of resources for tips to make the upcoming time change go as smoothly as possible for you and your family:

https://atriumhealth.org/dailydose/2020/03/06/adapting-your-childs-body-to-daylight-saving-time-springing-forward

https://www.today.com/parents/how-kids-spring-forward-sleep-daylight-saving-t124606

Written by Sara Schmidt