BEND, OR -- A proposal to shift start times for Bend-La Pine Schools got a boost, this week, when St. Charles Health System voted to formally endorse the idea. Dr. David Dedrick, Director of the Sleep Center, says fighting teen circadian biology leads to decreased school performance and attendance, an increase in car accidents, and even changes in mental health, "When we're sleep deprived, it's hard for any of us to have good control of our mood, our depression, anxiety, our impulses."
Dr. Dedrick tells KBND News, "Teenagers just have a different sleep schedule. They're not being lazy, they're not doing anything wrong, they're not being defiant; their internal biologic rhythm shifts as they go through adolescence, and with that shift, they tend to stay up later and they tend to sleep in later." He's heard the arguments that getting up early prepares kids for the real world as an adult, but says times have changed, "Historically, where this comes from is teenagers needed to be up and doing things on the farm, earlier, largely for labor." But, he admits, "We do need to have a schedule and mindfulness about how all of the shifting does change the schedule and the other facets of the teenagers' life and family life that it's going to impact."
He supports the proposal to start high school classes later in exchange for elementary students starting earlier because, he says, the science supports it, "If you do allow teenagers to sleep and go to school at a time that is more natural for their internal biological clock, or circadian rhythm, things are better. And, one of the facets is the improvement and gains they can have in their emotional health." He adds, "A schedule where our teenagers are allowed to sleep at the times they would want to naturally sleep, and then be alert and learning at the times they are naturally learning, things will be better for them. And that's well supported in the literature."
The school district is taking feedback on the proposal through May 31. To take part in the public survey, click HERE