School Start Times Need To Start Later

  • National Sleep Foundation recommended “amount” of sleep for teens, ages 14 to 17, is 8 to 10 hours per night
  • Research shows that only 1 out of 10 students gets the 8 to 10 hours of sleep recommended
  • Kim Reichelt recently gave a presentation at the Wayland Town Building to parents and Superintendent Paul Stein about the consequences of not getting enough sleep and why school start times should start later.
  • Reichelt precisely explained why teenagers like us can’t fall asleep right away. “In adolescence there is a natural, biological shift in sleep patterns that delays sleep onset by about two hours, making sleep before 11 p.m. difficult,” Reichelt said.
  • According to Reichelt, Statistics show that 73% of students get less than 8 hours per night, meaning that the majority of high school students are barely getting the minimum recommended hours of sleep each night.
This was a car crash that happened in Wayland, after school in November 2014
  • research has consistently found a decline in car crashes after school times have been moved
  • study at the University of Minnesota showed a decline in car crash rates by 65%-70% in 2014
  • If our natural sleep cycle is telling us to still be asleep early in the morning, how are we going to be focused on the road?
More sleep reduces the risk of depression and suicide
  • Getting enough sleep will reduce the risk of depression
  • Studies at “L.A. Unified School District” show that with each lost hour of sleep there was a 38% increase in feeling hopeless or sad, and a 58% increase in teen suicide attempts.
  • Pediatrician Judith Owens, lead author of the policy statement, “School Start Times for Adolescents”, states that adolescents who get the right amount of sleep, have a reduced risk of being overweight
More sleep means better grades
  • “Those last hours of sleep are REM sleep, and they are critical for learning and memory, and they are the ones these students are chronically missing,” Reichelt said.
  • Owens tells Scientific American, that kids with the right amount of sleep do better on standardized test scores and get better grades.
  • Adolescence is a critical period for brain development, and teens cannot make good choices about reasoning, problem solving or good judgment if we do not have enough sleep
Common misconception about sleep
  • Some say “If school starts later, they’ll just stay up later.”
  • Others say, “Teens can make up lost sleep by sleeping late on weekends,”
  • Or “Teens would go to sleep earlier if their parents just made them do it”
  • Research clearly shows us that adolescents’ sleep cycles change when they hit puberty, and our melatonin is released around 11 p.m., not when school administrators decide
Teens need more sleep!

Yes , starting school later in the morning would mean that sports practices would start later in the afternoon. There would also be an increased busing cost, and schedule changes would have to be made for before and after school care. But what we shouldn’t compromise is our sleep.

Sleep is vital and beneficial. I'm tired of hearing excuses. Do teenagers need more sleep? The answer is yes and it's time we take action.

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