Sleep Disorders

21 May 2007

School starting too early?

Many teens believe that starting school later in the morning and giving tests later in the school day would help improve their grades, a new study finds.

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Many teens believe that starting school later in the morning and giving tests later in the school day would help improve their grades, a new study finds.

Researchers surveyed 280 students at a suburban high school outside of Philadelphia. The students start their school day at 7:30 am and finish at 2:25 pm The survey found that:

  • 78 percent of the students said they found it difficult to get up in the morning.
  • Only 16 percent said they felt they got enough sleep.
  • 70 percent said they believed their grades would improve if they had more sleep.
  • 90 percent felt their academic performance would improve if school started later in the morning.
  • Many students said they did not feel alert taking tests during early morning classes and don't think they're at the peak of their academic ability at that time.
  • Most of the teens said the best time to take tests would be from 11 am to 1 pm.

"Teenagers need more sleep than adults [eight to nine hours vs. seven to eight] and their circadian rhythms are phase shifted so that their ideal bedtime is midnight to 1 am; yet they have to get up at 6:30 or earlier for high school," study author Dr Richard Schwab, of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a prepared statement.

Start classes later
High schools should start classes at 8:30 or 8:45 in the morning, he said.

"School systems should be thinking about changing their start times. It would not be easy - they would have to change the busing system - but it would increase their students' sleep time and likely improve their school performance," Schwab said.

The study was slated for presentation Sunday at the American Thoracic Society's international conference, in San Francisco. – (HealthDayNews)

Read more:
Sleep Centre
Teen Zone

May 2007

 

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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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