Later School Start Time: Better Behavior

PROVIDENCE, R.I., July 8 (UPI) — Starting school 30 minutes later than is customary could improve high-school student alertness, mood and health, U.S. researchers suggest.

Dr. Judith Owens of the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, R.I., says moving the start time to 8:30 a.m. from 8 a.m. was associated with significant student improvements.

The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, finds after the later start time the percentage of students getting less than 7 hours of sleep decreased by 79.4 percent. Those reporting at least 8 hours of sleep increased from 16.4 percent to 54.7 percent with the delayed sleep time.

The students reported reduced daytime sleepiness, less fatigue-related complaints, improved mood and better class attendance after the later start time.

Owens and colleagues had 201 high school students delay their start time 30 minutes — from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. — and also complete the online retrospective Sleep Habits Survey before and after the change in school start time.

The delay in start time was initially subject to resistance by the faculty and athletic coaches. However, after the trial period, students and faculty overwhelmingly voted to retain the 8:30 time the next semester, Owens says.

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