Delaying School Start Time Packs Many Benefits for Teens

Delaying School Start Time Packs Many Benefits for Teens

It’s no secret that sleep is important for teens. Studies have shown that getting enough sleep during adolescence can even reduce the risk of obesity. Then why do so many high schools begin at the crack of dawn? According to CNN, a new study published in JAMA’s Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that pushing back school start times by even just 30 minutes each day can improve alertness, mood and health in teens.

“Ranging from the amount of sleep they were getting, to self-reported sleepiness, to self-reported depressed mood to tardiness, the study demonstrates you can make a positive impact with relatively small change in start time, ” said lead study author Dr. Judith A. Owens, director of the pediatric sleep disorder center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.

Teens aren’t staying up late to be rebellious – it’s biological. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), the biological changes that occur during adolescence affect one’s internal clock, and causes teens to fall asleep later. So when those young people must get up early for school, they don’t get the 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep their bodies need. A 2006 poll by the NSF found that nearly one-half of adolescents in the U.S. were getting less than eight hours of sleep, and many said they knew they weren’t getting enough sleep to feel their best.

In the current study, researchers surveyed just over 200 students in grades nine-12 at a private school. After the start time was changed from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m, the number of students who reported feeling unhappy, depressed, annoyed or irritated decreased. Also, fewer found themselves at the health center for fatigue-related concerns.

“If you really need nine hours, and you’re only getting six and a half hours or seven hours, even that extra half-hour can make a big difference,” Owens said. She says that more research should be done to see how sleep affects academic performance.

It can be a pain to make younger children get up early for school, but biologically it makes more sense. Let the teens sleep!

Photo: TheParentsZone