Should High School Students Sleep Later?

Surveys at JEB Stuart High School in the Falls Church area show that parents, teachers and students support the idea of later start times.

Students surveyed last school year said they went to school feeling tired. A majority reported falling asleep in class at least once a week, according to a news release issued by Start Later for Excellence in Education Proposal, or SLEEP.

Among the 155 parents who responded to the survey, 85 percent favored starting high school later in the morning; 48 percent preferred high school hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. with the next most popular schedule being 9 a.m. to 3:50 p.m., which was favored by 23 percent of parents.

Sixty-eight percent of 101 teachers surveyed agreed that the current 7:20 a.m. start time is too early; 62 percent indicated that students would perform better with a later start time.
Of the 679 students surveyed, more than 70 percent said high school starts too early and 39 percent preferred an 8:30 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. schedule.

The SLEEP group said the results reinforce the need for school schedules to more closely align to adolescents' body clocks and perhaps enhance teen health and academic achievement. The campaign to ask school officials to look into later start times was begun by concerned parents.

Studies show that teenagers need nine and a quarter hours of sleep a night for optimum physical, mental and emotional health. Students in the survey group reported getting an average of seven hours of sleep a night.

For more information, call 703-538-2783, 703-207-9277 or 703-993-1881 or visit www.sleepinfairfax.org.

By Steve Fehr |  October 30, 2005; 7:27 AM ET  | Category:  Schools
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