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To the Editor,
We all get stressed out when we lack sleep and teens are no different. But the current proposal to start high school at a later time creates a whole new set of problems for middle schoolers, after school activities and increased busing costs. Instead, I call on the adults in town to help solve this problem.
Parents, teachers, administrators, therapists and counselors should join together to commit to help students change their behavior so they create better sleep habits. Granted their internal clocks may resist, but like sleep training with babies, some portion of teens behavior can be adjusted to improve their daily lives.
I’ve seen the stress of students in my middle school classroom and I’ve seen it can be reduced with specific actions. Parents and all school personnel should commit to a program that encourages kids to grab a nap, reduces homework load, requires a study hall in their schedule to reduce nighttime homework hours, reduces after school commitments, limits screen time, and stops electronics after 10 p.m.
Most importantly, adults need to present a healthy example that sends the message that being “busy” does not equate to success. These may not only help sleep, but create the down time kids so badly crave. Let’s help them learn valuable skills and coping strategies for their future emotional health.