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Study Suggests Late School Start Time So Teenagers Get Enough Sleep

Update Date: Jan 26, 2017 06:51 PM EST

A recent study suggests late school start time so that teenagers can enough sleep. This is because one out of three teenagers is actually suffering from lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can lead teenagers to have poor academic performance, frequent absences in school, low energy for and reduced participation in physical activities, poor mental health, and contributes to most vehicular accidents.

The study, conducted by researchers from McGill University, examines whether school start time is correlated with sleep duration and tiredness among teenagers. In addition, the study is the first to provide a comprehensive assessment of school start times across the country of Canada.

In order to show the benefits of late school start time in terms of adolescent health, the researchers collected and analyzed data on school start times from 362 schools in Canada. The schools are participants in the 2013-2014 Health Behavior in School-aged Children study. The researchers calculated how long students slept based on student's self-report on their weekday bedtime and wake time. The reported sleep hours during weekdays were classified as sufficient or not sufficiently based on the national sleep recommendations. The data was also used to classify the self-reported tiredness at school in the morning.

Published in the Journal of Sleep Research, the study found that on average, schools in Canada start at 8:43 in the morning. On average, most teenagers slept for around 8.4 hours on weekdays with around 69 percent meeting the national sleep recommendations. Sixty percent of the teenagers reported feeling tired in the morning.

According to the researchers, early school start time is in conflict with the natural circadian clock of teenagers. As these young people go through adolescence, their body clock gets delayed two to three hours thus sleeping before eleven at night is a struggle. Contributing to early school start time, teenagers don't get enough sleep and are prone to physical and mental problems.

This explanation backs up the need for schools to consider starting later than usual. Every ten-minute delay in school start is equivalent to an additional 3.2 minutes of sleep for teenagers. The study found that schools that have a late start time, have teenagers getting enough sleep thus reducing the self-reported tiredness in the morning.

The study adds to the growing evidence of the benefits of late school start time in regards to teenagers' wellbeing. The researchers do recognize that in order to implement late school start time, a concerted effort should come from the school, government, parents, and concerned parties.


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