Later School Start Times May Foster Better Students
Jim Liebelt Jim Liebelt's Blog
- 2010 Jul 06
A new study mirrors previous research results in finding that starting school later in the morning allows high school students to get more sleep and increases alertness in class...
High school students at a private school in Rhode Island who started school a half-hour later in the morning were in better moods, more alert, less depressed and more likely to actually attend class than before the time change, a new study shows.
In fact, the experiment was so successful that the school has now permanently shifted its start time from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
"At the end of the experimental period, there was not a single faculty member, student or administrator who wanted to go back to the old start time," said Dr. Judith Owens, lead author of a paper appearing in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
The study bolsters the evidence that teens have special sleep needs.
"Sleep medicine specialists have long known that delaying high school start times helps teenagers sleep better," said Dr. Heidi V. Connolly, chief of the division of pediatric sleep medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "Teenagers are biologically programmed to prefer a later bedtime and a later wake-up time so it is not surprising that they struggle with early school start times."
After the time change, students went to bed an average of 18 minutes later at night and slept an average of 45 minutes longer. The proportion of students getting at least eight hours of sleep a night jumped from 16.4 percent to 54.7 percent, while those getting less than seven hours a night decreased by almost 80 percent.