Increase in US school districts supporting later start times

High school students may soon be getting some much-needed rest.  According to a recent Associate Press (12/17, Blankinship) report, more school districts around the country are beginning to heed the advice of experts and adopt later start times.  The Seattle School Board has approved a start time of 8:45 a.m. beginning the next school year for all high school students, adding to 70 other districts across the U.S. who have made similar adjustments in recent years.

The move is in response to mounting evidence that teens aren’t simply lazy, but that their bodies suffer from something known as “phase delay.”  Teenagers inherently have difficulty going to sleep early, which makes them need to sleep longer in the morning and feel fatigued early in the day.  While scientists don’t know the specific reason for this, hormone changes are a strong suspicion.  In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement that recommends a delay of the start of classes to 8:30 a.m. or later.    There are other supporting statements from advocacy groups as well as the National Sleep Foundation.

According to an article in Time (05/11, Sifferlin), those schools that have made start time adjustments have seen promising results.  Schools report noticeable reductions in tardiness, as well as more alert and engaged students earlier in the day.  One study showed that schools with an 8:35 a.m. or later start date produced better academic performance in core subject areas as well as higher scores on national achievement tests.

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Steven J. Lipsky MD, FACEP has been a Board Certified Emergency Physician in Arizona for the last 37 years, and a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley for the last 37 years. Steve Lipsky on Google Plus[/author_info] [/author]

Dr. Steven Lipsky

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