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Neuroscience For Kids

Later School Start Time May Make Better Students
July 19, 2010

clock Would starting school 30 minutes later make better students? Researchers in Rhode Island have published a study that suggests it might.

Dr. Judith Owens and her colleagues studied 201 high school students who had their school start time delayed from 8:00 am to 8:30 am. Before and then two months after the switch, the students completed a survey that asked about their sleep habits.

After the change to the later school start time:

sleep This experiment shows that a simple 30 minute delay in starting school appears to benefit students' physical and emotional health. Nevertheless, it is unclear if the later school start time produces better student grades and test scores. Furthermore, the researchers note that they did not have a control group in their study. Therefore, it is possible that the changes in student sleep habits may be related to something other than the later school start time.

If starting school later is good for high school students, why aren't more schools delaying the start of the day? Sleep researcher Dr. Kyla Walhstrom suggests one answer to this question: the time that school starts creates a strong emotional reaction within a community; changing the time that school starts could upset the rhythm of the day for families and businesses. It is also possible that altered school start times could disrupt bus schedules, sports, and afterschool student jobs.

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