Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) jumped into the growing debate over school start times. The AAP says school for teenagers needs to start later to accommodate the teenaged body clock. Now new research is suggesting that ALL of us should have later start times.
Researchers at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine reviewed the sleep patterns of nearly 125,000 American adults. They found that sleep hygiene could be significantly improved by starting one’s day later in the morning, or by making one’s start time more flexible. Here’s what the authors said:
U.S. population time use survey findings suggest that interventions to increase sleep time should concentrate on delaying the morning start time of work and educational activities (or making them more flexible), increasing sleep opportunities, and shortening morning and evening commute times.
Interestingly, the researchers found that moving school or work start times an hour later doesn’t necessarily result in people getting an hour more of sleep. Results showed that with every hour that work or educational training started later in the morning, sleep time increased by 20 minutes.
While the idea that starting your day an hour later could be beneficial isn’t really new information and it seems obvious, the researchers point out that this is the first large scale survey to look at the problem.