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Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Benefits of Later School Starts

From Smart Kids with LD

April 8, 2014

The evidence is mounting that later high school starts result in benefits for students.

A recent study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that students who were allowed to sleep in performed better on several measures including automobile crash rates, mental health, school attendance and in some cases, grades and standardized test scores.

These findings were based on a University of Minnesota study that looked at eight schools in three states before and after they changed to later starting times. This study adds to a body of knowledge that’s been accumulating over the past several years.

According to an article in The New York Times:

"Researchers have found that during adolescence, as hormones surge and the brain develops, teenagers who regularly sleep eight to nine hours a night learn better and are less likely to be tardy, get in fights or sustain athletic injuries. Sleeping well can also help moderate their tendency toward impulsive or risky decision-making.

During puberty, teenagers have a later release of the
“sleep” hormone melatonin, which means they tend not to feel drowsy until around 11 p.m. That inclination can be further delayed by the stimulating blue light from electronic devices, which tricks the brain into sensing wakeful daylight, slowing the release of melatonin and the onset of sleep. The Minnesota study noted that 88 percent of the students kept a cellphone in their bedroom."

Change is Slow

But just because it makes sense, doesn’t mean parents and schools will readily make a shift to later start times. After all, changing school hours could infringe on after-school activity times, school bus schedules, student jobs, homework time, and that’s just at the end of the day. It would also impact morning routines for working parents and younger siblings.

After all, who doesn’t look forward to breakfast with a comatose teen?

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