Should High Schools Delay Start Times?

 |   |  adolescent sleep high school start times sleep sleep deprivation teen sleep

tired high school student sleeping on books

A pilot project in Ontario may be giving high school students an extra hour of sleep. The Thames Valley District School Board is looking to change the start time to between 9:30 and 10am, and if approved could be rolled out in the 2017-2018 school year. 

According to the 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card 26% of Canadian adolescents are sleep deprived and a staggering 43% of 16-17 year olds are not getting enough sleep on weekdays. It is recommended that children between the ages of 14 and 17 get between 8-10 hours of sleep each night and because biological sleep patterns for adolescents tend to shift toward later times for both falling asleep and waking, it is natural for a teenager to not fall asleep until 11:00 p.m. or later. This makes it difficult for teens to get the recommended amount of sleep when they have an early school start time. A recent study by McGill University published in the Journal of Sleep Research, found “a strong association between later school start times and better sleep for teens,”. Genevieve Gariepy, a post-doctorate fellow at McGill University and lead author on this study, states that “kids that don’t get enough sleep have a harder time at school, they have a hard time focussing, concentrating. It also affects their emotional well-being. It affects their health and it also increases the number of accidents that they get into. So it’s important for our teens to get the sleep they need.”

In addition to increased focus and emotional health, a study conducted in the US found that delaying school starts times also boosted attendance and graduation rates.

The logistics of changing school start times can be quite complicated, so it is not surprising that more school boards aren’t taking this initiative; however, all of the latest research on this subject will hopefully continue to ignite the conversation. To learn more, read We Need to Talk About School Start Times published by McGill University. 

Read We Need to Talk About School Start Times

Don't just dream of a better sleep. Actually have one.

Latest News