US high schools are starting to adopt later start times after a study revealed that teenagers’ education is likely being harmed by early start times.
The research, conducted last year by the American Academy for Paediatrics, found that while everyone is of course affected by sleep deprivation, teenagers are particularly susceptible due to their rapid development, frequently busy lives and tendency to stay up late. As a result, the Academy recommended last year that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8.30 am.
A series of studies showed that later start times help to combat sleep deprivation in teens therefore improving academic success, attendance, mental health and also help cut sleep-related car accidents.
According to Donna Gordon Blankinship of the Associated Press schools are now starting to take notice as the Seattle school board voted last month that from next year all of its high schools and most of its middle schools would adopt an 8.45 am start time. Seattle is just one of around 70 school systems that have made similar shifts – showing that the researchers’ teen-sleep findings advice is slowly being adopted by education boards.
Bridget Shelton, a freshman at Seattle’s Roosevelt High School, believes the change in bell times will help her move from getting 6-7 hours of sleep to closer to 8 hours next year:
I know many students that come in and are just struggling to stay awake,” she said. “Many of my friends are falling asleep in class.
However, the campaign has not been successful everywhere. In some places, like Chicago, campaigns to move some start times later have simply failed and in other places have come up against some pretty stiff opposition due to logistical concerns like having to adjust bus timetables.
It seems like a great idea, realistically, who is functioning their best at 7.30 in the morning? Especially in winter, when it’s pitch black. Push it back even further I say – watch those test scores soar!