Sleep Health Watchdog: Check out these change agents for better teen sleep

Without the work of dedicated activists from the grassroots, the medical research field, and legislators, we might know a lot less about the sleep needs of teenagers and the disservice we do to this population when we ask them to start class before 830am.




sleep health watchdogSHC would like to shine the spotlight on those people who are working (or have worked) to raise awareness about the major public health and safety problems tied to sleep deprivation among young people ages 10 to 19.

Without the work of the fine individuals featured below, many of us would not be aware of:

⇒ the high price of adolescent sleep deprivation (diabetes, depression, absenteeism and failure to graduate, obesity, higher injury risks on the playing field, more risky behaviors like sexual activity and drug use)

⇒ the lack of public recognition that teen sleep deprivation is preventable if we take into consideration the unrealistic school start times forced upon them

⇒  the lack of support for teen health due to an ongoing assumption that teen sleep schedules are a product of bad behavior, rather than scientifically sound science that shows delayed sleep-wake schedules are a normal circadian rhythm phenomenon

⇒ the lack of acceptable options for students who are exhausted the moment they arrive at school (who end up relying on caffeine, which further exacerbates the problem)

⇒ the insidious way that sleep deprivation can turn a vehicle into a dangerous and deadly weapon for teens

Top 10 Healthy Hours Activists

In alphabetical order


MARY CARSKADON, PH.D. (Sleep researcher)
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Chronobiology Research Lab at E.P. Bradley Hospital
About: Foremost scholar of sleep research focused on pediatric populations, but especially adolescents
Actions: Too numerous to list, but Carskadon’s efforts in 1993 to identify the circadian rhythm shifts that are unique to human puberty sparked the Start School Later movement.
Follow in Twitter: @sleepyteens
Like and Follow in Facebook:
Connect in LinkedIn:

JILLY DOS SANTOS (Teen activist for later bell times)
Middlebury College
About: Notable youth activist, college student, and public speaker featured in The New York Times and Huffington Post.
Actions: At age 15, Dos Santos launched the first student-led activist organization focused on teen sleep deprivation and school start times, Students’ Say.
Connect in LinkedIn:

ZOE LOFGREN (Legislator)
United States Congress
About: US Congresswoman for California’s 19th District
Actions: For 20 years now, Representative Lofgren has repeatedly introduced the “Zzz’s to A’s Act” (HR 2245), a bill that directs the state Department of Education to study school start times and their impact on adolescent health, well being, and performance.
Follow in Twitter: @RepZoeLofgren
Connect in LinkedIn:

Minneapolis, MN
About: One of the leading visionary healthcare organizations that helped to promote healthy hours in the last century.
Actions: Adopted language and concepts from an adolescent health campaign (clause 110.03) by the Minnesota Psychiatric Society in 1993 to inform their 1994 position statement (one of the first of its kind in the Start School Later movement) urging local school districts to eliminate early starting hours for teens.
Follow in Twitter: @mnmed
Like in Facebook:
Connect in LinkedIn:

JUDITH OWENS, MD MPH (Director, Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders & editor-in-chief, Behavioral Sleep Medicine)
Boston Children’s Hospital
About: Activist physician dedicated to educating families, clinicians, and the general public on the importance of good sleep for teenagers
Actions: Most prominently, her work on sleep disorders in children and their frequent misdiagnoses as ADHD is seminal, groundbreaking work. More recent efforts have highlighted the use and abuse of energy drinks among teens to self-medicate for sleep disorders and sleep deprivation.
Like and Follow in Facebook:
Connect in LinkedIn:

United States Senate
About: US Senator (D) for California’s 25th District
Actions: Introduced SB 328 (Pupil Attendance: School Start Time) which would, on a statewide level, prohibit all public middle and high schools from starting classes before 8:30am. If this legislation passes, it will be the first time an entire state has legislated for later school bell times for tweens and teens. This bill is still in session.
Follow in Twitter: @Portantino
Like and Follow in Facebook:
Connect in LinkedIn:

ANITA RAO (Director of student advocacy)
About: Student at Columbia University in New York City and director of the Start School Later National Advisory Board.
Actions: Rao helps to coordinate student-led chapters for the Start School Later campaign.
Like and Follow in Facebook:
Connect in LinkedIn:

SCHOOL BUS CONSULTANTS (School transportation program consultants)
Kansas City, MO
About: This nationwide consultancy specializes in working with districts undergoing a change in school bell times.
Actions: SBC has provided assistance for dozens of districts across the country who have needed expertise in adjusting transportation schedules to new bell-time alignments, including the complex and multi-layered Seattle Public Schools, which shifted to later school times in 2015.
Follow in Twitter: @TPGoC
Connect and Follow in LinkedIn:

WENDY TROXEL (Behavioral and social scientist)
Pittsburgh, PA
About: Passionate public speaker and activist for healthy adolescent sleep behaviors.
Actions: Most recently, her TEDx talks (“Sleepy teens: A public health epidemic” and “Why school should start later for teens”) have lent significant attention to the cause of later school start times.
Follow in Twitter: @WendyTroxel
Like and Follow in Facebook:
Connect in LinkedIn:

TERRA ZIPORYN SNIDER (Executive director and co-founder)
Start School Later Inc, Annapolis, MD
About: Medical writer and sleep health activist.
Actions: Launched the Start School Later movement officially as a nonprofit organization in 2011.
Follow in Twitter: @terraziporyn
Like and Follow in Facebook:
Connect in LinkedIn:

Other like-minded efforts to prevent #sleepdeprivation among teens and to educate people about their unique #circadianrhythms (and the risks to our young people when we don’t connect good sleep with their health, well being, and safety) include those behind these Twitter handles, which SHC also likes and follows:

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