Asleep in class? Revisiting school start times for teens

This week is the National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep Awareness Week, a campaign to increase awareness of sleep importance, safety, and health benefits. For teens, getting enough sleep is especially important as they progress through puberty and their natural sleep rhythms begin to shift. Most US middle and high schools start before 8:30 a.m., making it difficult for teens to get a sufficient amount of sleep.

In a 2015 NPCH Report, we asked parents of teenagers 13-17 about the impact of later school start times for teens. Half of parents with teens whose schools started before 8:30 a.m. said they would support a school start time of 8:30 or later. 40% of parents said they believed their teens would get more sleep if school started later. Conversely, 22% of parents said having a start time of 8:30 a.m. or later would not allow for after school activities.

Figure 1. Parents' perceptions of impact of later school start times for teens

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In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement recommending middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later. According to the AAP, getting the appropriate amount of sleep helps teens improve physical and mental health, and has been shown to improve safety, academic performance, and quality of life.

What do you think?
Should schools delay their start times to 8:30 a.m.? As a parent, would the time change pose any challenges for you in regards to transportation or other activities? Share your thoughts in the comments below and on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH.