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Later School Start Time for Teenagers

Posted Jul 07 2010 6:29am

My junior year of high school, I fell asleep in AP European History (for the record, I also got an A). I was so deep in dreamland that sleepingwhen the bell rang to indicate the end of class, I slammed my hand on the desk thinking I was reaching for my alarm clock next to my bed. The whole class applauded when I realized that I was not snoozing in the comfort of my own bed, but instead in the first seat first row of first period.

I wish I could claim this was the only time this ever happened or that none of my classmates ever did the same thing. When I was in college and got mono, the doctor asked if I was feeling tired. "Tired?" I asked, "I've been tired since 6th grade." It was true, ever since leaving elementary school and having to get up an hour earlier for classes, I felt like I spent half my day in a daze. Turns out, I am not the weirdo here. Scientific research is showing that teenagers are in their deepest stage of sleep around dawn, which is usually when they're waking up for school. Consequently, students are often late for school and groggy throughout the day.

Some schools are trying to prevent this by starting the school day a half hour later. The thirty extra minutes of sleep is showing that teenagers are more alert in class, performing better academically, and are tardy far less often. To do this, a few minutes is being cut off of each class so that the day still ends at the same time and does not interfere with after-school activities. Because student performance has been so much better the teachers claim that the loss of time is being made up for by increased student involvement and participation.

Of course there are hurdles to this type of schedule. Daycare for younger children and increased parental work schedules are some factors.

What would you think about your kids going to school later? Would you mind them having shortened classes? Will extra sleep be helpful?

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