Dement: Later School Start Times Boost Learning & Health

Why Early School Start Times Are Failing Our Children

Drs. Walker and Huberman discuss the importance of later school start times for the health and education of children. Despite the complexities involved in changing school schedules, Walker argues that it is a problem that can and must be solved. He cites research showing that when students get enough sleep, their minds flourish, and when they don’t, their performance suffers.

Walker and his colleagues have been working to promote later school start times, successfully passing legislation in California and New York, with Florida likely to follow suit. However, the fight for change is ongoing and met with resistance.

The conversation also touches on the problematic end-of-semester exam system in universities, which forces students to cram information during a sleepless two-week period. Walker argues that this system, created by educators and administrators, deliberately deprives students of sleep and hinders their learning. He believes that the responsibility for change lies with the institutions, not the students themselves.

The Resistance to Later School Start Times

Huberman and Walker discuss the resistance to shifting school start times later and improving learning conditions. They attribute this resistance to tradition, the idea that going through sleep deprivation is a rite of passage, and the potential costs associated with later school times.

Walker highlights the issue of the “bewitching hour” when kids get out of school but their parents are not yet home from work, which is associated with higher teenage crime rates. By pushing school start times later, this issue could potentially be mitigated.

In the medical profession, residents working 30-hour shifts are at a significantly higher risk of making diagnostic errors, causing surgical errors, and getting into car accidents. Despite evidence of the negative consequences of sleep deprivation, there has been resistance to changing resident work schedules. However, when presented with the cost of malpractice caused by insufficient sleep, administrators are more likely to make changes.

More From this Episode

Leave a Comment