Moving secondary schools to a later start time will better align with sleep research that shows health benefits for teenagers who start school later in the morning. So far, research has not shown drastic academic achievement for secondary students who start school later.
Additionally, there is little credible research that can point to detrimental effects on elementary students and an earlier start time.
Potential results of an earlier start time for elementary schools
- Students are more attentive in class.
- Schools will be able to structure more core classes in the morning when elementary students learn best.
- Some families may see a decreased need for childcare, which means fewer morning transitions before school.
- Anecdotal evidence shows that after the first year, a majority of families and school staff prefer their new routine.
Science behind teen sleep patterns
- Later sleep patterns are biological, not necessarily behavioral
- 8-10 hours of sleep is best for teenagers
- However, 69 percent of high school students do not receive 8 hours of sleep
- Delayed onset of melatonin (a chemical in the brain that regulates sleep) for teens makes it difficult to go to sleep earlier, resulting in a natural sleep cycle that begins late at night.
When students begin school at 8:30 a.m. or later
- Improved attendance and decreased tardiness
- Improvement in continuous enrollment
- Improved health and fewer trips to the nurse
- Improved alertness
- Increase in secondary students eating breakfast
When secondary students receive fewer than 8 hours of sleep
- Increased rates of depression, anxiety and fatigue
- Increased rates of auto accidents
- Decreased athletic and motor skills
- Weight gain and/or elevated blood pressure
- Increased likelihood of criminal behavior or risk-taking (drugs, alcohol)
- Interference with brain development (memory formation)
- Presentation: Dr. Conrad Iber, MD, Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota. "Teens and Sleep: The biology of sleep and the human brain"
- Examining the Impact of Later High School Start Times on the Health and Academic Performance of High School Students
- When the Bell Tolls: The Effects of School Starting Times on Academic Achievement
- Impact of School Start Time on Student Learning
- Elementary Feedback on Changed Start Times
- American Academy of Pediatrics Supports Childhood Sleep Guidelines
- ARTICLE: Why teen brains need later school start time
- ARTICLE: When Worlds Collide Adolescent Need for Sleep Versus Societal Demands
- ARTICLE: The Impact of School Start Time on Family Life
- ARTICLE: The Consequences of Insufficient Sleep for Adolescents
- ARTICLE: Changing Times: Findings From the First Longitudinal Study of Later High School Start Times
- ARTICLE: Starting Time and School Life: Reflections from Educators and Students