DJemaa el Fna and the Koutoubia Minaret at night
Fruit stalls against the medina walls
Me looking out from the balcony
I have returned from Marrakesh (which is an incredible city), to this article from the Western Mail posted on our HG forum about teenagers and sleep:
“Timetabling academic subjects such as English and maths for the start of the school day could be putting teenagers at a disadvantage. A leading scientist claims teenagers follow a different sleep pattern from children and adults which means they’re more awake in the afternoon than in morning. The findings defy the traditional notion that mornings are the best time to learn because that is when pupils are most alert.
“Russell Foster, a professor in circadian neuroscience at Oxford University, said making minor changes to the structure of the school day to take this into account could boost pupils’ performances. According to research presented by Prof Foster in a talk, ‘Society, the Brain and Education – Body Clocks and Sleep’, our bodies are design so that bed times and wake times drift later as children reach puberty, meaning that teenagers and young adults prefer afternoons or evenings for both intellectual or physical activities. This pattern continues up until the age of around 20 when it starts to reverse.
“Prof Foster said forcing teenagers to fit in with our early-to-rise/early-to-bed culture, could be contributing to making them one of the most sleep-deprived groups in society. Although the optimum amount of sleep for teenagers is nine hours, studies in America have shown the average teenager gets only 7.5 hours. Sustained lack of sleep can result in poor performance ranging from impaired vigilance, poor memory, reduced mental and physical reaction times, reduced motivation and depression.
“Prof Foster said small changes such as later starting time for schools would greatly improve alertness and the mental abilities of teenagers during their morning lessons. ‘Teenagers’ body clocks can be delayed by two to four hours,’ he said. ‘Our adult body clocks are starting to gear up their cognitive functions at about 8am but in teenagers this won’t start until 10am or as late as midday. Studies in Germany and America show that when schools have changed start times to later, exam success has gone up and truancy and depression have gone down.’
“He said the problem was also evident among university and college students, and was worsened by the fact that many students were now working longer hours to finance their degrees and were using potentially damaging stimulants to stay awake. ‘It is cruel to impose a cultural pattern on teenagers that makes them underachieve,’ he said. ‘Most school regimes force teenagers to function at a time of day that is suboptimal, and may university students are exposed to considerable dangers from sleep deprivation. This imposition may trigger a cascade of events which at best amplify the problems of adolescents and at worst may precipitate a crisis for the developing brain.’
“Rhys Williams of NUT Cymru, said if schools were to change, they would be more likely to move towards the European model which sees pupils sitting at their desk as early as 7.30am.”
– Perhaps this could also attribute a little to increased onset of psychosis in the teenage years, which is often triggered by a lack of REM sleep as I have discussed before in the Bipolar post.
Posted by: Eleanor