It is one thing to assume that going to school will lead to

It is one thing to assume that going to school will lead to more hours of sleep in the future; another is to give children and parents the necessary education, explain why sleep is so important, how much sleep young people should have, and what people of all ages can do to get more and better sleep. But in all the discussions and debates on the economic and health consequences of attending school, I felt that one very important element was missing: education in sleep. Recently, California was the first state to require most middle and high schools to start at 8:30 a.m. as a neurologist in sleep medicine, and I welcome the decision to give teenagers in our state more time to sleep. Teenagers need eight to ten hours of sleep a day, but current school plans take about seven hours. Although small preliminary studies have shown that later on, school education is really about improving sleep, performance and health, these concerns are not unjustified. Critics of the bill are wondering whether primary school will really help young people to sleep later, or whether it will help them to go to prison later. If we really want to give teenagers more sleep, we need to teach them and their parents how sleep cycles work. It is important to note that when I talk to my adult patients with sleeping problems, almost everybody says that sleeping problems have started in secondary school. Just as we focus on nutrition and physical activity for health, we should consider sleep as an integral part of our mental, physical and psychological health. The effects of blue light on the screens of computers, televisions and telephones have a profound effect on our circadian rhythms or internal clocks and slow the onset of sleep. Over time, poor sleep leads to reduced knowledge, mood and overall health. Sleep problems also contribute to late sleep, waking up too late, late meals, sleepiness, weekend sleep and lack of exercise. Lack of sleep among young people is such a pressing social problem. Sleep deprivation also contributes to various medical problems, from obesity to cardiovascular diseases. A “good” sleep is a dream long enough for the brain to eliminate the toxic proteins that are by-products of neural activity during the day.

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