High school, Science, Sleep, TED Talk, Uncategorized

Blog Post #7: Learning from a TED Talk

For this blog post, I have decided to watch Wendy Troxel’s TED talk on why high schools should start later.

1. Briefly summarize the content of this talk.

Wendy Troxel begins by sharing the dreadful experiences for teenagers to wake up early from a sleep barely meeting the recommended hours. Troxels explains the science of how the delayed release of teenagers’ hormones contribute to their sleep deprivation yet public policy administers schools to start around 8:30. Awareness is brought to the risky substances teenagers turn to stay awake, hampering their brain development during the most crucial period and leading towards mental health problems during a vulnerable stage. From her studies on 300000 high school students, many alarming statistics have revealed symptoms of the mental health conditions. Troxel concludes with sharing the positive results of greater student achievement from later wake up times.

2. Why did you choose this talk?

I chose Wendy Troxel’s talk on schools starting later because I currently benefit from sleeping in during my first period spare. Understanding that sleep can improve our mood, and long-term benefits include reduced stress from personal experience, I was intrigued by what a professional would reveal. Out of the TED talks posted, I was the most curious to learn about how sleep impacts me, and be prepared when my first period spare in gone next semester.

3. What did you agree with in this talk?  Why?

Troxel does a fantastic job of communicating to the adults in the audience by finding equivalents from their perspective. For instance, to counter the argument of making teenagers tougher and ready for the real world by starting school early, it is the equivalent of not allowing a two-year-old to nap so it’s prepared for kindergarten.

Her professionalism as a sleep research supports the scientific facts about teenager’s hormonal delay. Additionally, Troxel clearly states the consequences of sleep deprivation to raise immediate awareness and concern. Troxel also reminds the audience of meeting the recommended 8 hours of sleep is equivalent to receiving the bare minimum of a grade C in school. Her blunt and direct word choices instantly pinpoint these issues most people try to avoid confronting.

However, humor was also used appropriately when Troxel related this topic to her life experiences of waking up her son. This text to self-connection Troxel makes is extremely effective because the majority of people in the audience have been through similar experiences of either the one being woken up or the one waking someone up. How Troxel makes this connection in the beginning of her speech engages the audience because they feel more related to Troxel and become more open to her following ideas.

In conclusion, I believe Troxel uses excellent and concrete ways to support her stance and balances it with humor and personal connections to engage the audience.

4. What did you disagree with in this talk? Why?

Troxel said regardless of the late start, teens would not sleep any later. I disagree with this statement because my friends who have a first period spare and I do stay up. I stay up until 2 a.m. to work and make up for the lost time I slept through. Troxel did not specify the length of her research to prove the specific statement above. The only way I relate to that statement is when there was official one day late starts, hence the night before, I would sleep accordingly to a normal night and benefit an extra hour of sleep.

Besides the surveyed population, Troxel does not address the range of her research to prove the statistics said. Though I trust her professionalism and career as a sleep researcher, her statistics are not as strong and definite if she had specified the pool of students. Perhaps there was an increase in the percentage of students who suffer from depression because of the lack of sleep from grade 9 to 12. By specifying the grades and years of the students studied, it may prove a regression and be more influential because her supporting evidence is more concrete.

5. What questions do you have after this talk?

#1 Based on Troxel’s research and involvement to advocate for students’ well being, I am curious to know if she is a part of any initiatives to change the public policy.

#2 What time does Troxel recommend for high schools to start?

#3 Students often stay up late due to heavy school work. If school starts later, then school will end later, hence there will be less time to complete school work. What suggestions do you have to prevent this negative effect?

#4 In the past, schools have been considerate of students needing to help with farm work hence the 2 month summer holiday, which is the prime time for farming. If students could wake up earlier before and do hard labor, what has been the change for teenagers to be unsuited for early start times?

#5 Personally, I don’t spend the entire time after school working and I know my sleeping hours have been delayed because of slacking on Youtube. What recommendations does Troxel have besides putting the blame on early school starts for sleep deprivation?

#6 An average teenager spends 6.5 hours on screens (including laptops, phones…etc.). Two of the many problems of too much screen time contributes to sleeping, mental, and physical problems. Why did Troxel not mention these major contributing factors of sleep deprivation besides early start times which seems minor in comparison?

6. Would you recommend this talk to a friend? Why or why not?

I would recommend this talk to a friend because I believe it’s an interesting talk that they’ll enjoy. Waking up early, tired and cranky is something I know the majority of my friends find relatable and they’ll be more likely to watch it because Troxel agrees with delaying school start times. Sharing this informative video also spreads awareness for a major issue all high school students face which will help advocate for a change. During Troxel’s presentation, I found several times when I said to myself, “yeah I agree with that!” after hearing about the findings from Troxel’s research. Since we don’t often read about research papers about sleep and teenagers, I believe my friends would be more attentive and want to learn more about the scientific research. Overall, this talk has a great balance between humor and research facts that make it impactful.


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