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Study Finds Sleep-Deprived Students Lash Out, Do Poorer In School

HOLYOKE/NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) — Joesfa Morales doesn’t play any games when it comes to getting her 8 year old son Adonis to bed at a decent hour. “Adonis goes to bed a 8:30. By 7:30, he’s already asleep. He takes his medications. 8 o’clock he’s bathed, and by 8:30pm, he’s knocked out. He struggles a bit in math, but his grades overall are perfect,” she said.

A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, finds that elementary school students should get between 10 and 11 hours of sleep per night. It also found that those who got an average of 27 minutes more sleep per night behaved better, and outperformed their sleep-deprived peers. “Children that have any kind of disruption in sleep; whether it’s snoring, or what we call Restless Leg Syndrome, they tend to do poorer in school, they have more hyperactivity, and they behaviorally can’t cope. So they’re more apt to lash out, be angry, to yell,” said Dr. Dorothy Kelly, a pediatrician at Western Massachusetts Pediatrics.

She says that mere sleep deprivation could be misdiagnosed as ADHD, and is even linked to obesity. “There are hormones that are activated during sleep that decrease appetite. If they’re not activated during sleep, these hormones can be less active and cause a child to be eating more.”

In Northampton, they’re still debating on whether or not to push the school start time back.  School Committee member Stephanie Pick says they’re not disputing the information, but community members still have mixed feelings about it. “When I was in high school, that’s something I would not have wanted because I played sports after school and had a really busy schedule and didn’t want to be pushed later in the day. “I definitely think kids will do better in school with more sleep, and school starting later would fix some of that, but I think it would also factor into when extra-curriculars can start in the afternoon”.

Next month the school committee will vote on whether school should start at 8:15 or 8:30.

Elementary, Middle, and High Schools would be affected. The school committee will vote next month.

If approved, the changes will go into effect for the 2013-14 school year.

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