So long, early birds | August 12, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - August 12, 2022

So long, early birds

To combat teens' sleep deprivation, California schools must start their days later

by Zoe Morgan, Leah Worthington and Angela Swartz

Carol Maheras isn't going to miss the early morning scramble to get her twins to school.

This story contains 3192 words.

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Email staff writers Zoe Morgan, Leah Worthington and Angela Swartz at [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected]


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2022 at 12:56 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

A couple of observations.

Will this encourage kids to go to bed later? Will it cause a difference in morning commute hours? Will kids have to be dropped off to before school centers due to the fact that their parents have to get to work?

I am asking these questions because the reality is very different. As a teen I just could not get up in the morning and it was nothing about what time I went to bed, but I had to run out the house often without breakfast so that I would not miss my ride. I carpooled with neighbors and the driver had to get to work by a certain time. If they had messed around with my school start time, it would have just been waiting outside the classroom door longer.

Posted by karlakk
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 12, 2022 at 9:31 pm

karlakk is a registered user.

Not addressed is it is recommended kids are limited to 2 hours a day of screen time (not education related) but the average is 7 hours. Web Link

Posted by Jacob Zhao
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2022 at 7:56 am

Jacob Zhao is a registered user.

On weekdays, our school-aged children go to bed by 9pm and awake at 6am to prepare for another school day.

It is a schedule they are thoroughly adjusted to and comfortable with.

This sleep deprivation that people are speaking of stems from poor time management on the part of parents who are lax in discipline and their children who are distracted by other non-academic endeavors like spending too much time on their cellphones.

Posted by Missy Carter
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2022 at 10:14 am

Missy Carter is a registered user.

I wake up at 5:30 am every weekday morning and am at work by 7:30am...plenty of time to rise, shower, have some coffee and commute.

Are we training today's kids (aka the employees of the future) to go to bed late, incessantly dabble on TicTok, and then arrive at work during brunch hour?

As Mr. Zhao has implied, it is time to ditch and/or confiscate those iPhones and make better use of one's time.

Posted by Jason Billings
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 13, 2022 at 11:16 am

Jason Billings is a registered user.

Another consideration/ today are LAZY. Blame the parents who are probably disgruntled Baby Boomers resentful of spankings, chores, and curfews

When was the last time anyone saw a white middle class adolescent cutting the front lawn or working at a fast food joint?

There is too much 'entitlement' being ingrained by irresponsible parents who perhaps resented having to be at school by 8:00 am for 1st period classes.

Dump the cellphones. We never had them during the 1960s through 1980s.

This current preoccupation with social media is both inane and totally responsible for any 'sleep deprivation' concerns.

Posted by Justine Walters
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2022 at 2:53 pm

Justine Walters is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Bette Hargrove
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2022 at 3:45 pm

Bette Hargrove is a registered user.

Yes...blame internet addiction for sleep deprivation and distraction from other more pertinent responsibilities.

When we were kids, there were no cellphones for talking, texting, and online excursions...just 10¢ pay phones.

And there was no cyber-bullying and shaming either. If someone wanted to badmouth another individual, they did it verbally and behind the other person's back.

Posted by Trevor Thompson
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 13, 2022 at 5:28 pm

Trevor Thompson is a registered user.

" today are LAZY."

^ Add self-entitled to the equation as well.

America of the future is screwed.

Posted by S. Underwood
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2022 at 9:55 pm

S. Underwood is a registered user.

I feel this is moving around deck chairs. In 18 months we'll be seeing soccer practices and such at 8pm. (Some already are, but it will be more common.). The cell phones need to go, and parents need to learn about bedtime.

Posted by Amy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2022 at 10:40 pm

Amy is a registered user.

Mr Zhau
Teens with after school jobs getting out at 4:10 can only work a shift from 5-8. That would leave one hour for homework and dinner with your imposes 9pm bedtime. Your children clearly just come home to do homework and go to bed. Not realistic for most kids.

Posted by III
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2022 at 8:53 am

III is a registered user.

I could be wrong. But based on my experience, "kids" spend much too much time
evenings playing around on their tech gagets. I went to Paly, competed in sports
after school varsity level 2 different sports, I coached at Paly, been around kids past
40 yrs. Those with sleep concerns, were NOT RELATED to work, or late night studies.
Were related to interacting with technology games or communication with friends also up late.
I would agree, today, there is much more homework/school related work. But again,
8am to 3pm was school. Practice was 3:30pm to 5:30pm. Homework was 7pm-9pm
then to bed. We/I did that Paly, Foothill College, Cal Berkeley. And I found lots
of time summers, off season to have fun later in evenings. And I had summer jobs ALWAYS.
Parents need to step up to the plate with better technology control evenings, IMHO.

Posted by Marlon Williams
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 14, 2022 at 11:06 am

Marlon Williams is a registered user.

"Teens with after school jobs..."
^ In Palo Alto and Los Altos, very few teens have after school jobs.

Posted by Bobbie Jenkins
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 14, 2022 at 12:49 pm

Bobbie Jenkins is a registered user.

Kids today do not know how to manage their time...too many distractions and time wasted on online gossip.

Take away their smartphones and they will have plenty of time for sleep, school, homework, and maybe even a few chores around the house.

This sleep deprivation nonsense is a relatively new phenomena being perpetrated by adolescent slackers.

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 14, 2022 at 5:14 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

This 8:30 school start will make life tougher for working parents. Aren't school hours set up to make it most viable for their working parents, who have to drop the kids up at about 7:45 AM to start to work at 8:30 AM??? The parents and the kids will need about 1 1/2 hours to bathe, dress, eat, and get out of the house at 7:30 AM, so this means that they'll still have to get up at about 6 AM. I believe that kids starting later is a good thing because I was late sleeper as a child. But if you want to make kids sleep longer in the morning, then it will be necessary to find a way to make their parents arrive at work later, and that will be a very tough nut to crack.

And in professions like construction, or medicine, or even teaching, it is necessary to be at work by 8 AM or earlier.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2022 at 8:38 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Goodness... whatever happened to a start time/ring the bell. This is over analyzing, and that's putting it mildly.

Getting your kids to school on time isn't any different than adults getting to work on time. You make the necessary changes, and you do it.

I agree with kids not having cell phones/smart phones. We never bought phones for our kids, and it's one of the wisest parental decisions we made.

I think it's sad that so many parents drive their kids to school. Walking/biking is healthier - as long as you use the buddy system. It's mentally and physically healthy, and it instills confidence in your child.

Posted by Eleanor Prescott
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 15, 2022 at 6:42 am

Eleanor Prescott is a registered user.

Would it be possible to incorporate to nap period during the school day like they do in kindergarten?

An afternoon siesta following lunch is a traditional part of Mexican culture and is said to have rejuvenating qualities.

Posted by Gerri Gaines
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 15, 2022 at 9:40 am

Gerri Gaines is a registered user.

Most of this 'sleep deprivation' is self-imposed because kids today are easily distracted by other trivial outlets like social media and online gossip mongering.

Having grown up on a small farm in Iowa...we went to bed by 9pm, woke up at 5:30am, completed a few chores by 6:30am, had breakfast, and then hopped on the yellow bus to school every weekday morning.

There was no time for exercising or promoting contemporary weenie excuses.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Ron Harvey
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 15, 2022 at 11:22 am

Ron Harvey is a registered user.

"Another consideration/ today are LAZY."

"Most of this 'sleep deprivation' is self-imposed because kids today are easily distracted by other trivial outlets like social media and online gossip mongering."

Take away those iPhones and kids will have plenty of time for both school and sleep.

"Teens with after school jobs getting out at 4:10 can only work a shift from 5-8." many upper middle class white kids have after school jobs?

My neighbors pay their high school-aged children $100.00/weekly in allowance in addition to fully subsidizing their 'creature comforts' (i.e. late model cars, smartphones, clothes, concert tickets, and outside dining).

Why should these kids even bother to address any responsibility when they've got it made?

Just sleep-in and complain about how cruel life is as did their older Millennial brethren.

Posted by Grew Up Here
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2022 at 12:02 pm

Grew Up Here is a registered user.

Quit suggesting removing the mobile phones—that is not going to happen and is ridiculous to even suggest it. If it works for you, good, but it won't work for the general population. The Brady Bunch and Leave It to Beaver days of childhood are gone.

As far as the farm girl who woke up at 5:30 am, surely Iowa schools 30 years ago are not as rigorous as the academics in PAUSD.

I graduated from Paly in the 1980s and the curriculum was much easier, although I felt the teachers were superior too, which made it easier to learn.

I sent three kids through Paly in the last 12 years. It's not poor time management, research shows that teenagers' biological clocks are later in the night time so they cannot fall asleep as early. The 9:00 start time was a lifesaver for us. My students played Paly sports and there were no issues with the late ending times: Web Link So glad that Paly has resumed the 9:00 start time. In the past, it was an 8:20 start time and was more difficult. The earlier start time is beneficial to adults but not teens. Sleep deprivation leads to stress—the health of our children should be considered, especially being in a college-prep school district. Now if only tenure could be overruled. . . Principal Brent Kline cares about the students and is by far the best principal we have had in over a decade. Superintendent Austin is much better than the past few too.

Posted by Theo Lane
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2022 at 2:07 pm

Theo Lane is a registered user.

"...surely Iowa schools 30 years ago are not as rigorous as the academics in PAUSD."

This depends on the degree and regional definition of academics.

Having also been raised in an agricultural environment, I was firmly grounded in agronomy, farm machinery/operation, plant genetics, organic chemistry, linear algebra, and animal husbandry by the time I graduated high school.

Not too many PAUSD high school graduates can say the same and I later completed a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from UC Davis and an MBA from the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley).

Like Ms. Gaines, I also got up early and had pre-breakfast chores. It's called discipline and assuming certain responsibilities...something that many kids today are sadly lacking, especially in the more affluent neighborhoods.

Posted by Jake Schoenfeld
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 15, 2022 at 6:55 pm

Jake Schoenfeld is a registered user.

Sleep requirements are not etched in stone and can vary from individual to individual.

I enjoy stepping out nearly every evening and generally hit the hay after 2AM, waking up around 7AM for my first class at 8AM.

No biggie as the key is to stay loose (or lit) while keeping your priorities straight.

Posted by Ron Marsh
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 15, 2022 at 7:24 pm

Ron Marsh is a registered user.

Many upper middle class WHITE kids today are too soft, too pampered, and living in a private universe comprised of minimal responsibilities and focus.

The future of America is doomed.

Posted by toransu
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 15, 2022 at 8:44 pm

toransu is a registered user.

Good lord, some of you are really out of touch with what it's like to be young in this day and age (as you've made painfully obvious by your cringeworthy comments). I doubt the boomers here had to do a fraction of the work that a Millennial or Gen Z student has to do to even be considered for a university now.

Posted by Robyn Harris
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2022 at 7:14 am

Robyn Harris is a registered user.

Not every Millennial or Gen Z person needs to get into a college or university of their choice at first crack...start at a two-year JC and then transfer out.

The 4-year 'college experience' is far overated and like many aging boomers, countless future graduates will end up with low-paying jobs and nowhere careers especially if they focus their academic studies in the humanities.

Posted by Lucille McPheeters
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2022 at 8:01 am

Lucille McPheeters is a registered user.

What's the point of going to college purely for 'enlightenment' (and/or the parties) and then moving back home with one's parents?

At a roughly $60K cost per year at a private university (times 4-5 years), this money could probably be better spent depending on individual maturity levels.

We set aside $250K for our son's college education with the stipulation that he either work at a menial job first or join the military upon high school graduation.

He chose the menial job which will hopefully instill some appreciation and responsibility for what goes on in the real world.

Then again, it might also trigger some resentment which seems to be the trademark of the Millennial generation.

Posted by Miguel Torres
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2022 at 8:27 am

Miguel Torres is a registered user.

Some (but not all) Palo Alto residents are seemingly out of touch with the real world.

Sleep deprivation can easily be resolved by going to bed earlier and prioritizing one's daily responsibilities whether at school or at work.

Time management is important.

Posted by Horst Dietrich
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 16, 2022 at 10:08 am

Horst Dietrich is a registered user.

As Baby Boomer parents, many of us (with good intentions) have spoiled our children by trying to make life easier for them.

This in turn had created a generation of self-entitled, tragically irresponsible, and self-serving offspring who cannot even get through first period without falling asleep?

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2022 at 2:33 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

A better conversation might be how to get teens to have better sleeping habits.

Getting teens to bed at a reasonable time has been difficult for parents for decades. TV shows that went on too late used to the be main culprit. TV is no longer the draw to keep teens up long into the night, instead we can blame smaller screens and devices. But we can also look into such things as late night snacks, high caffeine drinks, poor light management and inability to switch off daytime stresses.

As with adults, we have to teach our children to wind down in the evening. Doing demanding homework assignments and then getting to bed is not going to produce productive sleep. Instead, a calm atmosphere, a dark room, easy conversation or entertainment, and the chance to stretch their bodies and muscles before bedtime, are methods used to induce slumber once the light is turned out and the body rolls over in preparation for sleep. This does not come naturally to teens or children. We have to teach them to prepare for bed physically and emotionally. Time to get back to how parents get their younger children prepared for bed, no scary bedtime stories and replace them with familiar favorites. The teen equivalents should be unearthed.

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