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Study: Home-schoolers better rested than other students
by usmom3
March 20, 2013 at 2:14 PM


Study: Home-schoolers better rested than other students

Home-schooled students may be better equipped to learn because they're getting a lot more sleep, a new study suggests.

The first-of-its-kind national study of more than 2,600 adolescents, including about 500 home-taught kids, found that home-schooled students slept an average of 90 minutes more per night than students attending public or private schools.

By the end of the week, that's almost an entire night's sleep traditional students are missing, says Lisa Meltzer, the study's lead author and an assistant professor of pediatrics at National Jewish Health in Denver. She says the changes brought by adolescence include alterations to when the sleep hormone melatonin is released in teens' bodies.

Meltzer spent 2012 gathering and analyzing the data and finalized them this month. The study found that 55% of home-schooled teens got the optimal amount of sleep per week, as opposed to 24.5% of traditional public and private school students.

"You've living in Philadelphia, but your internal clock is in California," Meltzer says. "As the week goes on, that sleep debt accumulates and makes it harder to learn."

Holly Syx, 36, says home-schooling her six kids in Adger, Ala., means greater flexibility in schedules and a "very relaxed" atmosphere. She remembers hating to wake up early when she attended school, and she lets her kids wake up when they want. Learning starts around 9 a.m., she says, but they get more done than if the kids were in school.

The inflexible schedule of conventional school systems is a big reason many parents choose to teach their kids at home, says Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute in Salem, Ore. Ray says more than 2 million kids are home-schooled in America. He says strict schedules, including early start times, means schools "run the family, rather than the family and kids running their lives."

"Home-based education makes it possible to have customization of education that schoolteachers dream of, and frankly don't get to do," Ray says.

Traditional high school educations provide valuable experiences and activities that home-schooled kids may miss out on, counters Frank Wells, a spokesman for the California Teachers Association. He says the sleep discrepancies may be caused in part by students' overloaded schedules, but "regardless of where kids go to school, parents and teachers need to work together to make sure students are getting the rest they need."

Hughes reports for the Fort Collins Coloradoan


  • usmom3
    by usmom3
    March 20, 2013 at 2:16 PM


    Study: Homeschoolers get more sleep, may be better prepared to learn

    Posted by Valerie Strauss on March 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    At Montgomery County high schools, the first bells ring in the 7 oclock hour.... (Susan Biddle/For The Washington...)

    High school students get on the school bus before the sun is up. (By Susan Biddle/For The Washington Post)

    A new study of a few thousand students found that homeschoolers get more sleep than students at traditional public and private schools. What are the consequences? It may be that home-schooled students are better prepared to learn on a daily basis because they get more sleep, researchers said.

    The study was conducted by researchers at National Jewish Health in Denver, who studied the sleep patterns of 2,612 students, including nearly 500 homeschoolers. Home-schooled adolescents slept an average of 1 1/2 hours more per night than students in brick-and-mortar private and public schools. Students in the traditional schools started class, on average, 18 minutes before the home-schooled kids, on average, got up in the morning.

    Sleep researchers have said for years that teenagers have different biorhythms than younger and older people, and have a hard time going to bed before 11 p.m. Then they have to get up early to get to high school, which often starts well before 7:30. As a result, the majority of teens don't get the 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep that experts say they should, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Meanwhile, elementary school students, who can fall asleep earlier, generally start class later than high school students. As a result, a growing number of school systems in the Washington area and beyond are considering starting high school later.

    "We have a school system that is set up so that the youngest children, who are awake very early in the morning, start school latest, and our adolescents, who need sleep the most, are being asked to wake up and go to school at a time when their brains should physiologically be asleep," Lisa Meltzer, a sleep psychologist and lead author of the study, was quoted as saying in this article on the National Jewish Health Web site.

    "Adolescents need nine hours of sleep a night and if they're only getting seven hours, on average, by the end of the week they are a full ten hours of sleep behind schedule," she was quoted as saying, "and that impacts every aspect of functioning."

    Teenagers have trouble falling asleep before 11 p.m. because of a shift in melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep, in their brains.

    The study concluded:

    * 55 percent of teens who were home-schooled got the optimal amount of sleep per week

    * 24.5 percent of students at traditional public and private schools got the optimal amount of sleep per week.

    Here are some tips from Meltzer on how to help teens get the sleep they need:

    *Get all electronics out of the bedroom.

    *Don't look at any screens 30-60 minutes before bed time.

    *Set a consistent routine.

  • blueyedbaker
    March 20, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    We have a pretty consistent bed time routine but my girls do go to be later than they did when they went to PS but they are getting up that much later too. They are getting much more sleep than they did before HS. They are much less crabby too, in general they are more happy than they used to be while going to PS.

  • debramommyof4
    March 20, 2013 at 3:33 PM

     My 7 year old does not sleep.  She wakes up in the middle of the night.  Homeschooling allows me to make sure on the days she did not sleep the night before that she gets a nap.

  • bluerooffarm
    March 20, 2013 at 3:36 PM

     When our kids are tired in the mddle of the day we have the opportunity to send them for a nap.

  • mrs.hartman12
    March 20, 2013 at 3:38 PM
    Yes your sleep patterns change with age. Teenagers function better with later bed/wake up times.
  • kirbymom
    March 20, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Awesome article.  And for the guy at the end..Frank what's his name, he is wrong about the "valuable" experiences that home schooled kids are missing out on. The trade off is NOT worth the negativity that is learned just to "gain" any "valuable" experiences.  

    - JMHO

  • wunderwifey
    March 20, 2013 at 7:23 PM
    Sleep is one of the things I look forward to with hs'ing. My older SD doesn't function well before 7:30, but right now she has to be up at 6 for ps.
  • mem82
    by mem82
    March 20, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    My daughter was just talking to me about this. She was sad that her other friends that go to public school are always so tired because they have to get up so early.

  • TxMommyOfBoys
    March 20, 2013 at 9:20 PM
    We take advantage of sleeping in! Lol kida usually wake around 10 or 11
  • irvinehiker
    March 20, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    One of the big advantages of hsing is setting your own routine.  We have a consistent bed time, but there are so many times my kids sleep in because they NEED the extra sleep .  Sometimes it's a growth spurt or just a busy week.  It's so nice to not have to live on someone else's schedule.    

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