Your teen doesn't want to wake up. Now, scientists are on their side.

It's ironic: When they're younger, you can't keep them from springing to life before 6 a.m. As teenagers, you can barely get them up for school.

Small children won't sleep in late to save their (or, more accurately, their parents') lives, but by the time they're old enough to savor their sleep, they have to get up early to go to school. When it comes to kids' sleep cycles, no one wins.

But research suggests it might be time to change that by switching up morning schedules and letting teens sleep in.


Scientists now agree: Not only are teens not getting enough rest, but the best way to remedy the problem would be by starting classes later in the day.


Image by husin.sani/Flickr.

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report suggesting that the majority of teens were not getting the rest they needed on school nights.

The report showed that while teens need at least eight hours of sleep each night, 2 of every 3 U.S. high school students got less than that during the week. It also reported that 5 of every 6 middle and high schools in the country were starting the school day before 8:30 a.m. — making it difficult for many students to fit in the recommended amount of sleep.

Image by Rob and Stephanie Levy/Flickr.

Now, scientists around the country are beginning to agree: The best way to help sleep-deprived kids is to push school times back.

Following the CDC's report, researchers began studying the effects of insufficient sleep and early class times on middle and high school students. This year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine — a group of over 10,000 scientists and health experts — formally issued a statement in support of later school times to support increased sleep among teens.

Another study also found a correlation between a delayed school start and graduation rates: Average graduation completion rate increased by 9% when the morning bell was moved to 8:30 a.m.

Image by JohnPickenPhoto/Flickr.

The good news is that parents have the power to help their kids get the extra sleep they need.

But news flash: It won't be by setting earlier bedtimes with their kids.

Adolescent brains generate hormones that induce sleep on a delayed schedule, making it difficult to get to sleep earlier than 11 p.m. — whether they're physically in bed or not.

However, parents do have the power to advocate for their kids within the school system.

Unlike many government-related issues, school hours aren't mandated by state or federal governments — they're set by individual school districts, so parents can work with school leaders to make changes to school schedules.

Image by Piedmont Virginia Community College/Flickr.

That's right: Armed with the above evidence, concerned parents can take the issues straight to their school's administration.

Organizations like Start School Later offer resources for parents looking to lobby for change in their kids' schools, and districts in 44 states have already implemented pilot programs to test for improved performance with later morning bells.

Whether or not you're parenting a teen yourself, it's an issue that affects everyone. Research also shows that risk of smoking, drinking, using drugs, and being overweight are all associated with teens not getting enough shut-eye — which means it should be a matter of national concern that an entire generation of teens might be sleep deprived.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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