Delaying School By One Hour May Improve Sleep and Decrease Auto Accidents
I always thought that high school started too early in the morning. It was hard waking up so early in the day, especially when I had been studying late the night before. A new study says that delaying school start times by just one hour improves sleep in teens and decreases their chances of getting into an auto accident.
The study looked at results gained from starting school one hour later. Students from grades 9 through 12 reported an average of 12 to 30 minutes more sleep at night. There was also an increase of students reporting getting at least eight hours of sleep per night as well as at least nine hours of sleep per night.
Getting drowsy during the day was also shown to decrease in students and they also reported requiring less ‘catch-up sleep’ time on the weekends. Auto accidents were also decreased by 16.5 percent when pushing back the school start time.
“It is surprising that high schools continue to set their start times early, which impairs learning, attendance and driving safety of the students,” said senior author Barbara Phillips, MD, director of the UK Healthcare Good Samaritan Sleep Center in Lexington, Ky.
The researchers note that the decrease in auto accidents is most likely due to the students being able to get more sleep from the change in start times for school. The authors of the study also say that sleep patterns are ever changing in adolescents due to social and biological pressures, which in turn makes the teens stay up later at night. Because of this, teens don’t get enough sleep because of school starting early. This also increases their sleepiness during the day and they are more likely to get into a car accident while driving.
This study is published in the Dec. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.