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Delayed School Start Shows Benefits for Teens

FRIDAY, Dec. 28, 2018 -- Delaying school start times increases the amount of time teenagers sleep, which seems to improve school performance, according to a study published in the December issue of Science Advances.

Gideon P. Dunster, from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues measured sleep-wake cycles of sophomore students enrolled in two public high schools in Seattle before and after implementation of a delayed school start time. High schools were delayed by 55 minutes (from 7:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.) in 2017. Measurements were taken for two weeks using wrist activity devices.

The researchers found that delayed start had several measurable benefits for students. Median sleep duration increased by 34 minutes following implementation. At both schools, the increase in amount of sleep was associated with a 4.5 percent increase in students' median grades. The impact on attendance was mixed, with no improvement in punctuality seen at Roosevelt High. However, students attending Franklin High School, an economically disadvantaged school, had significantly fewer instances of late arrival and absenteeism after implementation of the delayed school start time.

"Given the widespread negative effects sleep deprivation has on adolescent physical and mental health, our study points to the value of a measure such as delaying the school start time toward improving teenage sleep and, in turn, health and academic outcomes," the authors write.

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Posted: December 2018

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