School & District Management

High Schools Letting Students Sleep In to Improve Grades and Health

By Kathryn Baron — August 14, 2014 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Kathryn Baron

You snooze, you lose, may be the wrong mantra for high school students. With the new school year upon us, more districts are responding to a growing body of research by giving teens more time to sleep at home so they won’t sleep in class.

The first day of school this week in Colorado Springs’ Harrison School District Two will begin 20 minutes later than in past years, anywhere from 7:45 a.m to 9 a.m. depending on the school. A notice on the school district website said the change resulted from a two-year study of the research and interviews with teachers, parents, and students found “that achievement and well-being of students is positively impacted by a later start to the academic day.”

Alabama’s Phenix City Public Schools and Decatur City Schools have also become part of this trend (although Decatur officials say it’s to cut down on transportation costs). School will start at 9 a.m. for Phenix students in grade 8 to 12, an hour and 15 minutes later than before, according to WTVM news.

The nation’s fourth largest district, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, is considering a similar schedule change.

“There’s evidence that by imposing our schedules upon adolescents we may actually be endangering them to some extent,” Alberto Ramos, the co-director of the Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Miami Medical School recently told the Miami Herald.

Research shows that teens need 8½ to 9¼ hours of sleep a night, but usually get fewer than 7 hours. Chronic sleep deprivation has serious consequences for high school students. It’s not just a matter of academic harm. They’re also more prone to depression, violence, health problems, drinking and smoking, and getting into car accidents.

On the flip side, a recent study from the University of Minnesota that Education Week wrote about found that pushing back high school start times improved academic performance, attendance and health, and reduced car crashes near schools.

Meanwhile, some parents are pushing back against a later start time, amid concern that ending the school day later means students’ after-school activities go on too late and their children have to stay up even later to finish their homework.

It may seem like an easier option would be getting teens to go bed earlier, but try telling that to their circadian rhythms. Adolescent body clocks don’t send out the tired message until about 11 p.m. or later.

Many bloodshot eyes are looking toward Maryland for more answers. Lawmakers there approved a bill in April requiring the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to study the sleep needs of teens and survey districts that have already implemented later start times. The report and recommendations are due out by the end of this year.

A New Face on the Blog

By the way, the Time and Learning blog is traveling west. I’m Kathryn Baron, the new blogger, and I’ll be posting from the San Francisco Bay Area, but welcome ideas from all over. I’ve been writing about education for many years and in many forms, from public radio to newspapers and from magazines to online journalism. Coming from a family of public school teachers, I suspect that a passion for education is in my DNA. I’d love to hear your feedback, suggestions, and news tips. Feel free to post a comment on the blog. You can also follow me on Twitter @TchersPet.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Time and Learning blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management How 'Vaccine Discrimination' Laws Make It Harder for Schools to Limit COVID Spread
In Montana and Ohio, the unvaccinated are a protected class, making it tough to track and contain outbreaks, school leaders say.
4 min read
Principal and District Superintendent Bonnie Lower takes the temperature of a student at Willow Creek School as the school reopened, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Willow Creek, Mont.
Bonnie Lower, a principal and district superintendent in Willow Creek, Mont., checks the temperature of a student as Willow Creek School reopened for in-person instruction in the spring.
Ryan Berry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP
School & District Management Opinion 'Futures Thinking' Can Help Schools Plan for the Next Pandemic
Rethinking the use of time and place for teachers and students, taking risks, and having a sound family-engagement plan also would help.
17 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion The Consequence of Public-Health Officials Racing to Shutter Schools
Public-health officials' lack of concern for the risks of closing schools may shed light on Americans' reticence to embrace their directives.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management Opinion Best Ways for Schools to Prepare for the Next Pandemic
Being better connected to families and the community and diversifying the education workforce are some of the ways to be ready.
14 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty