How Early School Start Times are Affecting Teens
There has been significant research over the last 20 years into school start times and the impact they may have on teen aged students.
Overwhelmingly, this research shows that early school start times have a negative impact on a teen’s success in school. This impact appears to be linked to adolescent circadian rhythms, which affect sleep patterns. During teenage years, the best hours in the day for work and concentration shift later by about three hours.
Therefore, many health departments and researchers have recommended moving high school start times to much later, some even recommending them to be as late as 10:00am or 11:00am.
Here is a quick look at some studies that investigated the impact of school start times on students:
- A recent North Carolina State University study took a close look at five high schools who moved up their start times from 8:05am to 7:25am. The findings: increased absences, increased late arrivals. In other words, students were missing significantly more school.
- A 2017 McGill University study found that early school start times were linked to a lack of sleep in adolescents. This is especially problematic because lack of sleep in students has been shown to impact grades and health negatively, and can lead to an increase in anxiety, depression, and behavioural problems.
- A 2018 University of Washington looked at 18 public schools who pushed their start times later by 55 minutes and found that students were able to get more sleep, were absent less often and showed a 4.5 percent increase in grades.
The takeaway seems to be that sleep, school success and overall health are closely linked to each other, and that early school start times conflict with adolescents’ sleep patterns.
Something to reflect on!