If your school district is looking for ways to run schools at times that allow teens to get healthy sleep, you will want to attend this first-ever national conference on Adolescent Sleep, Health, and School Start Times, planned for April 27-28 at the J.W. Marriott in Washington DC. This unique conference is a collaboration of the Yale School of Medicine‘s Department of Pediatrics, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the RAND Corporation, and the non-profit Start School Later.
“This conference will provide an opportunity to improve the health and well-being of young people across the country,” says Phyllis Payne, Start School Later’s Implementation Director.
Anyone interested in ensuring safe, healthy school hours - including parents, students, school board members, educators, health professionals, legislators, and other concerned citizens - is encouraged to attend and can register online. Spaces are limited.
Later Bell Times Mean Better Sleep
Many health organizations - including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - recommend that middle and high schools start after 8:30 a.m. These recommendations are based on decades’ worth of research showing that early school start times both decrease and disrupt adolescent sleep due to later shifts in sleep cycle that occur during puberty. Deficient sleep is correlated with a host of health and safety issues including car crashes, depression, diabetes, sports injuries, and more.
"This national conference aims to provide educational policymakers and advocates with practical guidance that includes clear implementation guidelines for school districts that often struggle in relative isolation to implement this policy change." - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Report, ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL: A National Compendium of Efforts to Eliminate Drowsy Driving
While many schools have adopted later start times to promote teen sleep health and well-being, change often takes years of study and planning. More commonly, schools struggle to overcome community resistance to change and widespread ignorance about sleep. This conference is aimed at helping school administrators and community advocates overcome these challenges to streamline the implementation process.
Never before have so many experts on teen sleep and school bell time change gathered together with community leaders and grassroots advocates. Attendees will hear from sleep scientists as well as districts who have acted on the research to move bell times later.
Day one’s keynote speaker will be award-winning writer and pediatrician Perri Klass, MD, a professor of both journalism and pediatrics at New York University, who has written extensively on (among many topics) medicine, children’s health, and sleep.
On day two participants will hear Kenneth Dragseth, PhD and California State Senator Anthony J. Portantino talk about opportunities to lead change at both the district and state levels. Dragseth, a lecturer in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development, was the superintendent of the nation’s first school system to delay bell times based on sleep research. Portantino is currently sponsoring legislation (SB328) that would prevent the state’s public middle and high schools from requiring students to be in class before 8:30 a.m.
Other key speakers include:
- Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, FRCP, Harvard Medical School
- Anne Wheaton, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Judith Owens, MD, MPH, Boston Children’s Hospital
- Kyla Wahlstrom, PhD, University of Minnesota
- Wendy Troxel, PhD, RAND Corporation
- Mary Carskadon, PhD, Brown University
- Daniel J. Buysse, MD, University of Pittsburgh
- Amy Wolfson, PhD, Loyola University Maryland
- Deen Beebe, PhD, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
- Phyllis Payne, MPH, Sleep in Fairfax and Start School Later
- Craig Canapari, MD, Yale School of Medicine
- Terra Ziporyn Snider, PhD, Start School Later
- Sandy Evans, Fairfax County (VA) School Board
- Darrel Drobnich, Childhelp
- Maida Chen, MD, University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital
- Tom Platt, School Bus Consultants
- Brian Tefft, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
- Rafael Pelayo, MD, Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine
This is How Change Happens
By bringing grassroots advocates - parents, students, and concerned citizens - together with school leaders, policymakers, health professionals and communicators, and change management experts, the conference offers an unprecedented opportunity to help school communities turn science into policy.
Not only will participants have a chance to hear state-of-the-art science about teen sleep needs and patterns from the people who did the research, but they will have many opportunities to share with each other ideas and experiences that they can bring home with them and put into action.
The whole idea, explains Payne is to join these different stakeholders together so they can “collaborate on how to ensure a smooth return to more traditional school hours that allow middle and high school students the opportunity to sleep and wake at times that work with their body clocks and promote improved learning.”
Note: An earlier version of this article was published in The Huffington Post on January 3, 2017.
Follow Terra Ziporyn Snider, PhD on Twitter: www.twitter.com/terraziporyn