advertisement

Sleep Disorders

07 July 2019

Later school start time pays off with more attentive students

'Biological changes in the circadian rhythm, or internal clock, during puberty prevent teens from falling asleep early enough to get sufficient sleep when faced with early school start times.'

It's a no-brainer – not getting enough sleep makes it harder for kids to learn. And a new study finds that starting school later in the morning can help teens be more alert during the day.

In 2017, the Cherry Creek School District in Greenwood Village, Colorado, changed start times from 8am to 8:50am for its middle school students and from 7:10am to 8:20am for high school students.

Changes during puberty

That change gave middle schoolers 31 more minutes of sleep, while high schoolers got 48 minutes more, the researchers said.

"Biological changes in the circadian rhythm, or internal clock, during puberty prevent teens from falling asleep early enough to get sufficient sleep when faced with early school start times," said lead researcher Lisa Meltzer. She's an associate professor of paediatrics at National Jewish Health in Denver.

"This study provides additional support that delaying middle and high school start times results in increased sleep duration for adolescents due to later wake times," she added in a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

For the study, more than 15 000 students completed online surveys about their sleep habits before and after the new starting time.

Too tired for homework

Besides getting more sleep, students said they were more alert for homework.

Before the time change, 46% of middle schoolers and 71% of high schoolers said they were too tired to do homework. After the change, that dropped to 35% and 56%, respectively.

At the same time, scores that measured academic engagement rose significantly.

"The study findings are important because getting enough sleep is critical for adolescent development, physical health, mood, and academic success," Meltzer said.

The report was published online recently in the journal Sleep, and the findings were presented Wednesday at a meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in San Antonio, Texas.

Image credit: iStock

 

Ask the Expert

Sleep disorders expert

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.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules