The Seattle School Board has approved later start times for its high schools and most of its middle schools to increase productivity. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests students start their classes after 8:30 in the morning.
This push has come after years of trying to adjust school to teens’ biological clocks. The Seattle teachers union agreed with the changes and commented, “The proposal to change bell times is the result of a research-based community initiative,” the union said. “It will improve learning, health and equity for thousands of Seattle students.”
While the time change makes sense for nearly everyone involved, it may not make sense financially for some schools. For instance, additional busing expenditures may make the initiative unworkable for some schools.
In 2010, JAMA Pediatrics conducted a study to see how a slight (30 minute) shift in school start times affected the students’ sleep, mood and behavior. In a Rhode Island high school with a sample size of 201 students for this study, the change from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. caused the students to get more sleep. They also reported more satisfaction with that sleep and an increase in motivation. Daytime sleepiness, fatigue, depressed mood were reduced and the study also found Most health-related variables, including Health Center visits for fatigue-related complaints, and class attendance also improved.