This Sunday (March 11) we spring forward, meaning we’ll lose an hour of sleep. For adults, it may be an annoying inconvenience, but for teenagers (45% of which aren’t getting enough sleep to begin with) it can spell disaster in the forms of drowsy driving and decreased productivity at school.
That’s because melatonin production in teens is delayed by one to two hours, making them physiologically unable to fall asleep earlier. With the additional loss of an hour sleep due to the upcoming time change, this could result in as many as three lost hours of sleep for teenagers.
One solution is to delay school start times, which has been proven to increase sleep duration in teens, as well as positively impact academic outcomes. It’s something that Dr. Lisa Meltzer, a pediatric sleep psychologist at National Jewish Health, has worked with schools across the country in an initiative to push back start times.
Dr. Meltzer explains more – including what students and parents in districts that have not delayed school start times can do to get more sleep – in this video. She also suggests preparing teens at home for the spring forward by gradually moving bed time 15 minutes earlier in the days leading up to daylight saving time.
Sticking to a sleep schedule can provide structure that benefit the production of melatonin, in addition to stopping the use of electronics 30 minutes prior to going to sleep.