ASA Issues Position Statement on School Start Times
In order to offer a more economical solution to school bus scheduling, and easier after-school activity planning, many schools across the country have changed middle school and high school start times to earlier hours in the morning. Many schools now start at 07:00 – some even earlier.
While this does offer substantial upfront cost savings to school budgets, it comes with a burden that far outweighs the benefit.
According to CDC research, “Among an estimated 39,700 U.S. public middle, high, and combined schools (with an estimated total enrollment of 26.3 million students), the average start time was 8:03 a.m. Forty-two states reported that 75%–100% of their public schools had early start times (before 8:30 a.m.)” Almost half of schools start before 08:00.
There is growing evidence that teenagers, as well as young adults, are negatively impacted by early school start times. Circadian rhythm studies have demonstrated that teenagers generally go to bed later and wake up later than adults. This is not a result of societal pressures, but rather an intrinsic part of their DNA and internal biologic time clocks. Teens also require more total sleep time than adults.
With earlier school start times, young students are not obtaining adequate total sleep time. This is resulting in numerous consequences. Data shows that early school start times and inadequate sleep lead to a decreased school performance, as well as mental health and physical health problems.
Early school start times and sleep deprivation are associated with weight gain, depression, mood problems, higher blood glucose levels and increased motor vehicle accidents.
Later school start time are associated with higher attendance rates, lower depression scores, and more even temperament at home.
The American Sleep Association position on school start times is that middle school and high school should not start before 08:00. A time closer to 09:00 or later would be preferable.
ASA is excited to partner with Start School Later which advocates for later school start times.
CDC – http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6430a1.htm?s_cid=mm6430a1_e
UMN – http://www.cehd.umn.edu/carei/publications/documents/Bulletin200212Wahlstrom.pdf