High Schoolers Would Benefit From Later Start Times

With students around the country settling back into their school schedules after the winter break, a new study says they should be starting later in the day.

A review of the scientific literature by a group composed of representatives from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sleep Research Society, and American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine found that later high school start times are associated with positive outcomes among teens, including more weekday sleep and reduced vehicular accident rates.

Results show that sleep on school nights increased by an average of about 19 minutes when school started up to 60 minutes later, and total sleep time on school nights was about 53 minutes longer when the delayed school start time was more than 60 minutes later. Delayed high school start times also were associated with reduced motor vehicle accident rates, less subjective daytime sleepiness, and lower differences between sleep durations on school and weekend nights.

“Our review intended to bring some rigor to evaluating how later school start times affect various aspects of high school student health and performance,” stated lead author Timothy I. Morgenthaler, MD, past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “Many people believe that school start times are one of the big reasons students do not get enough sleep; a CDC study found that 85.6 percent of U.S. high schools started before 8:30 a.m., which is the earliest time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Because of this, there is a push to move school start times later.”

To promote optimal health, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 years should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis. However, CDC data show that about 69 percent of high school students sleep less than 8 hours on an average school night. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a natural shift in the timing of the body’s internal “circadian” clock occurs during puberty, causing most teens to have a biological preference for a late-night bedtime, which can conflict with early school start times.

Source: News Release

 

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