5 Reasons School Should Start Later in the Day

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tired teensWhoever thought starting high school at 7 a.m. (or thereabouts) was a good idea?! It's hard enough getting my daughter to middle school at 7:35. And it's not just a matter of parental inconvenience (though, don't get me wrong, I'm in no way, shape, or form looking forward to those crack-of-dawn wake-up calls). Study after study tells us that kids who start high school later are better off and that sleep deprivation causes real damage to teens -- physically, intellectually, and emotionally. And I'm not just talking about kids being cranky at the breakfast table or dozing off in class. This is serious stuff:

5 Reasons Why High School Should Start Later

1. According to a new study, not getting enough sleep can increase a teen's likelihood of developing diabetes by decreasing insulin resistance. (Also, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says most adolescents need at least nine hours of sleep every night -- and up to 87 percent of teens in America are getting a lot less.)

2. A disturbing 2010 study found that teenagers who go to bed after midnight are 24 percent more likely to suffer from depression than those who go to bed before 10:00 p.m. Yikes!

3. Students are more alert later in the morning. Research shows that during the 7 a.m. hours, teen melatonin levels are still sending sleep signals. How are they supposed to actually LEARN anything?

4. Overtired teens eat more fatty foods. In one study, kids who got less than eight hours of shut-eye on a weeknight consumed more of of their daily calories from fat than teens who slept eight hours or more.

5. Teens who don't get enough sleep are more likely to "drive drowsy," which can lead to serious or even fatal automobile accidents.

Compelling evidence, right? Wonder what it's gonna take for the power-that-be to make a change ...

Do you think high school should start later?


Image via Jeffrey/Flickr

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Kathleen Cassell Cribari

I don't think that much will ever change. There are so many factors at play such as bus routes, after school sports, part time jobs. The bus drivers have to take care of the high schoolers and then the middle schoolers and then the elementary schoolers. Coaches want the kids done early enough in the day for sports practices after school, and many teens have after school jobs that start in the late afternoon.

I totally agree that teens need more sleep but the demands on their lives right now are too much, not to mention that colleges want to see huge resumes from applicants showing full academic schedules plus multiple extra curricular activities. Its insane

teach... teacherchick77

Absolutely. I teach 1st grade, and I've always thought elementary and secondary schools should flip flop hours. Our current system is entirely built on high school athletics and leaving more time for high school students to have after school jobs. Not what is educational appropriate. A shame.

Kelli... KelliansMom

High school does start later here. I really wish my school district growing up would have.

OoOJa... OoOJanisOoO

What time school starts has nothing to do with how much sleep your children get. What time they go to bed does though. I know I have to be up by 7 so I go to bed by 11. Teenagers can do the same thing. I don't think a 10 pm bed time is unreasonable. If they don't like it tough! Its part of growing up. They can stay up late on the weekends if they like.

Wendy Hanson

Teenagers actually need more sleep than adults - 8 hours is not even close to enough.  Going to bed earlier is a start, but their body clocks make it difficult to sleep so early at night.  Even if my daughter could fall asleep at 9pm, she still wouldn't have time to get the sleep she needs and catch the bus in the morning.  Its crazy that my grade schooler doesn't start school until 9am, because she is always up early, but tired in the afternoon.  Its too bad that schools don't take the natural sleep patterns of children and teens into account.


Sati Brown

it's not just the schools and the athletic programs. It's often the parents that demand high school start earlier so their older children are home first to babysit the younger. 

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

There's no reason it can't change. My school started at 9am. Anything earlier would be ridiculous, I already needed to leave the house at 7:30 to catch the bus.

Pinkmani Pinkmani

I agree. I'm in college now, but as a high school student I was very active. I got to school at 7am for extra help (starts at 8:30am) and left a 9pm due to my extra-curricular activities. A lot of people will say, just quit your extra-curricular activies, but those activies have shaped the person who I am today and have helped pay for my higher education. I wouldn't mind if school had shorter hours and more calendar days to make up for it.

amand... amandajoy21

I don't see how any of the reasons support moving high school start times to later in the day. What all her reasons support is having your teenager go to bed at a reasonable hour vice staying up til the early morning hours. In the real world these kids are going have to get use to the idea that the day starts in the early morning not the afternoon.

Venae Venae

Here most elementary starts @ 8:30, middle starts at 9:45 (we loved that!!!) and high school starts at 7:30.  High school is out at 1:45 - what about kids who don't have extra curricular activities or sports?  They have nothing to do the rest of the day.  It should definitely start later - even starting at 9:00, they could be out at 3:15 - plenty of time to do the extras.  Yes, that would play havoc w/the bus schedule, but not everyone rides the bus.

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