Should School start later?

The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and some School districts in Pennsylvania all seem to be in agreement – delaying start time for schools yields a remarkable improvement in students’ academics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes insufficient sleep in adolescents as an important public health issue that significantly affects the health and safety, as well as the academic success, of our nation’s middle and high school students.

Teenagers are the most likely group to be negatively affected by early start times due to their internal sleep cycle shifting during puberty. The CDC explains that,

During puberty, adolescents become sleepy later at night and need to sleep later in the morning as a result in shifts in biological rhythms.

Young adults regularly not getting enough sleep can face a number of issues and are proven to be more likely to:

  • Be overweight.
  • Not engage in daily physical activity.
  • Suffer from symptoms of depression.
  • Engage in unhealthy risk behaviors such as drinking, smoking tobacco, and using illicit drugs.
  • Perform poorly in school.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that Middle and High Schools in the US should start no earlier than 8:30 AM in order to give students the sleep they need. As of the 2014 study, 93% of High Schools and 83% of Middle Schools in the US started before 8:30 AM.

This is why several schools in Pennsylvania have already pushed their school start time back. Phoenixville area School Districts are the latest in Pennsylvania to vote in favor of later start times, opening 45 minutes later while their Elementary schools will be opening 35 minutes later.

The Solebury School in Bucks County made the move three years ago, pushing its start time ahead 30 minutes to 8:30 a.m.

Scott Eckstein, director of admissions at the private boarding school, says it’s been a success.

“Our honor roll has never been longer. Our list of kids who are struggling academically has never been shorter,” he said. “The kids look healthier and more energetic.”
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