Emsellem, Dr. Helene A., M.D., Whiteley, Carol. "13 Making Changes in Your School and Community." Snooze... or Lose!: 10 "No-War" Ways to Improve Your Teen's Sleep Habits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006.
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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits
performance, and well-being by helping her get more sleep. My final recommendation for making that happen, and it’s a major one, is to get involved in the drive to move school start times later.
Having schools start just 45 minutes later can make a huge difference in your teen’s life, because that can mean 45 minutes of additional sleep, with all the benefits sleep provides. (Contrary to what you might think, teens whose schools have later start times do use the extra time for sleep; they don’t stay up later, but go to sleep at the same time they always have and sleep later in the morning.) After the high schools in the Arlington, Virginia, public school system moved their start times from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m., students reported in a survey that they felt more alert and prepared for school and teachers reported improvement in both student alertness and participation. Parents noted that their teens had a much better attitude. Other schools, one of whose journey to later start times I’ll detail later, reported significant reductions in school dropout rates, less student depression, and higher student grades as well as a number of other extremely positive outcomes. Simply put, students who attend schools that are more in sync with their natural sleep-wake schedules are more able to learn and are happier doing it. Schools with later start times have positive effects on teachers and parents too.
IT’S A FACT
In a study of Minnesota schools in which start times were moved an hour later, results showed that:
Discipline problems went down
Illness calls dropped
Grades trended up
Student depression decreased
Students and teachers were much happier
Could your teen and your area’s schools benefit from later school start times? In a word, yes—and it’s something both you and your teen can work toward. To help support your effort, this chapter is chock