Think back to those wonderful days of high school – do you remember having to drag yourself from class to class after a late night of studying and not enough hours of sleep? Was it not the worst??
Well thanks to a new study released in February of this year it might be time to set teenagers’ alarm clocks for an hour later.
Using over 9,000 students in eight public high school, researchers at the University of Minnesota determined that a later start to the school day drastically increases the productivity and health of high school students.
According to the three-year long study, high schools that start at 8:30 AM or later give more than 60% of students the opportunity to obtain at least eight hours of sleep each school night, causing the schools to experience a number of positive outcomes.
For instance, schools with later start times have experienced the following:
- Increased academic performance in core subjects (such as math, English, science, and social studies)
- Increased attendance rates
- Reduced tardiness
- AND a 70% reduction in the number of car crashes in teenage drivers (ages 16-18) when schools made the switch from class starting at 7:30 AM back to 8:55 AM.
Additionally, research has identified that teens that get less than eight hours of sleep reported significantly higher rates of depression symptoms, caffeine use, and greater risk of making poor choices on substance use – all of which can be helped by simply setting back the school bells by one measly hour!
More research is needed to support the findings of this study but at the very least it serves as a great starting point for those hoping to change the operating hours of their local high schools.
Ultimately we all know a good night’s rest is essential to our health, so perhaps it’s time to revisit this idea of “the early bird gets the worm” because according to this study, the bird who sleeps in gets better grades and lives a healthier life, which sounds way better than a silly worm.
Post source: Wahlstrom, K., Dretzke, B., Gordon, M., Peterson, K., Edwards, K., & Gdula, J. (2014). Examining the Impact of Later High School Start Times on the Health and Academic Performance of High School Students: A Multi-Site Study.