The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

September 5, 2013

Let sleeping kids lie


Dr. Anthony Komaroff, whose syndicated column "Dr. K" runs in the Ottumwa Courier, wrote recently that teens need nine hours of sleep — but rarely get it. Part of that isn't their fault, he wrote: Their brains have a different internal clock than the brains of adults.

"The clock starts to power down the body at a later hour, and it also starts to power up the body at a later hour," wrote Dr. K. "That's why so many teens have trouble waking up in the morning."

But there are practical reasons letting kids sleep late might not work everywhere.

For one thing, it's hard enough to fit all that needs to be done by students and schools into daylight hours.

"It's not a terrible idea," said Hanson, "but logistically, it would be a challenge. You'd have to work around both academics and extracurricular activities. It could be done, but maybe we'd have to change class times for some students."

Or maybe football practice during those short autumn days would start early in the morning, and school would start later in the morning.

In the Associated Press report, Secretary Duncan admitted a later start time could cause problems with bus schedules but then added that schools are there to serve students, not adults.

When students were asked, they seemed to consider the question realistically: They said that adults in Ottumwa would probably be hesitant to restructure an entire school program or parent job schedules so teenagers could sleep in an extra hour.

"I don't think this district will do it," said Bonnie after thinking for just a moment.

Besides, added Katlyn, "the more hours we are late, the [later] we have to stay there."

"... and," finished Bonnie, "the later they (district employees) have to work and be away from their families."

— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark

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