Should schools move back the first bell?

Insufficient sleep can adversely affect the mental and physical health of children.



Published: Sun 15 Jan 2017, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 18 Nov 2022, 11:44 AM

It leads to poor levels of concentration, and various health issues such as obesity and hyperactivity disorder.

No one does well when they are sleep deprived. And it's especially true in the case of young students, who are expected to pay full attention at school and perform well. Studies conducted around the world concur that children between the age of five and 10 need at least nine to 10 hours of sleep a day to feel fully rested and perform at their optimal levels. For teens, at least eight to nine hours of sleep is a must. But how many children get these hours of rest before grudgingly leaving warm beds in the morning to reach school in time? In a number of cases, bleary-eyed students are ready and waiting for school transport even before 6am. Insufficient sleep can adversely affect the mental and physical health of children. It leads to poor levels of concentration, and various health issues such as obesity and hyperactivity disorder. Some scientists and researchers also point at risk of depression and other mood disorders because of paucity of sleep.

Tiger mum and tough parenting supporters might argue that in a competitive world, sleep is a luxury for the ambitious and go-getters. But the reality is, it is crucial to understand our internal body clock, or circadian rhythm, to ensure optimum levels of concentration, wakefulness and ability to work. Which is why it is important to stir a debate that discusses the merits of revising school hours. A delay of, say, 30 minutes to an hour could give children some extra time to rest, and agree more with their internal body clocks. It would also bode well for traffic on the roads, in the UAE at least. Every morning, office and school goers dictate traffic on roads, many a time forcing kids to spend an hour or more on commuting. Revised timings could reduce their commute, too. On the flip side, delayed school hours could jolt the timetables of working parents, who have aligned their office hours with school timings. What if schools become flexible, but workplaces don't? There are many finer elements that need to be acknowledged, discussed, and debated. Steps need to be taken that work well for our children and their brighter future.


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