Would Later School Start Times Benefit Students?

The average start time for High Schools in the U.S. is 8:00 am, and 54% of schools start before that time. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children ages 6–13 need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep at night. Teenagers (ages 14–17) need 8–10 hours each night. The same study points out that nearly 60% of middle schoolers and over 70% of high schoolers are not getting these recommended amounts of sleep per night.

The consequences of skipping sleep can be dire, according to one source.

As children go through puberty, their circadian rhythm gets longer, causing them to fall asleep later in the night than adults. This means that making a teenager wake up at 7:30 has the same effect as making an adult wake up at 5:30. School starting early in the morning shifts the circadian rhythm leading to students becoming more tired during the day and is associated with several health risks, including being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, using drugs, and poor academic performance, according to the CDC.

Early start times and late bedtimes are why students aren’t getting enough sleep and should be something that school administrations consider in hopes that they re-evaluate their start times in the morning.

Side view of a bored student yawning during a class in a classroom.
Picture – Sutterstock.com Antonio Guillem