School & District Management

Pediatricians Call for Later School Start Times to Combat Sleep Deprivation

By Evie Blad — August 25, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

High schools and middle schools should start at 8:30 a.m. or later to better sync schedules with students’ natural sleep cycles, the American Academy of Pediatrics says in a new policy statement published Monday. At the start of puberty, sleep-wake cycles shift two hours later, making it difficult for students to wake up as early as they did when they were younger, the statement says.

“Studies show that adolescents who don’t get enough sleep often suffer physical and mental health problems, an increased risk of automobile accidents, and a decline in academic performance,” the statement says. “But getting enough sleep each night can be hard for teens whose natural sleep cycles make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m.—and who face a first-period class at 7:30 a.m. or earlier the next day.”

Pediatrician Judith Owens, who authored the statement, called chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents “one of the most common—and easily fixable—public health issues in the U.S. today.”

“The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores, and an overall better quality of life,” Dr. Owens said in a statement. “Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”

Education Week‘s stories about sleep have been well read and a source of much discussion. This is clearly something district leaders are grappling with. Here’s a sample:

But starting school later may be easier said than done. Many districts have explored the option, only to stick with their existing bell schedules. Earlier this year, for example, the Montgomery County, Md., school district decided not to move forward with a new bell schedule that would have moved high school start times 50 minutes later, citing “implementation costs of more than $20 million and mixed feedback from the community.”

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement 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
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
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
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
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

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 10 Ways to Tackle Education's Urgent Challenges
As the school year gets underway, we ask hard questions about education’s biggest challenges and offer some solutions.
2 min read
Conceptual Image of schools preparing for the pandemic
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Reported Essay Principals Need Social-Emotional Support, Too
By overlooking the well-being of their school leaders, districts could limit how much their schools can flourish.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management From Our Research Center Educator Stress, Anti-Racism, and Pandemic Response: How You're Feeling
A new nationally representative survey offers key takeaways from teachers, principals, and district leaders.
EdWeek Research Center
1 min read
2021 BI COVER no text DATA crop
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Download 8 Tips for Building a Digital Learning Plan That Conquers Chaos
Craft flexible strategies, encourage experimentation with new instructional models, and regularly solicit feedback.
1 min read
onsr edtech tips
Getty