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Later School Start Times May Foster Better Students
Date:7/6/2010

ll need the same amount of sleep, making sleep deprivation "rampant among American teens," Connolly said.

Owens was approached by St. George's School in Middletown, R.I., about doing a study on a later school start time.

"There was a lot of push back initially from faculty, administration and athletic coaches who felt that half an hour wasn't going to make a substantial difference and was going to be disruptive to academic and athletic schedules," Owens said.

But they agreed to give it the old college try.

About 200 students in grades 9 through 12 filled out questionnaires on sleep habits both before and after the time change. The researchers also measured tardiness and visits to the school health center.

After the time change, students went to bed an average of 18 minutes later at night and slept an average of 45 minutes longer.

The proportion of students getting at least eight hours of sleep a night jumped from 16.4 percent to 54.7 percent, while those getting less than seven hours a night decreased by almost 80 percent.

Other parameters improved as well.

"Virtually everything we looked at -- ranging from the amount of sleep to self-reported sleepiness during the day, to mood and depression symptoms, to interest and motivation to participate in academic and athletic activities -- moved significantly in a positive direction," Owens stated.

As noted in an accompanying journal editorial, research into this topic started in Minnesota 13 years ago and resulted in the Minneapolis Public School District changing the start time of high schools to 8:40 a.m. and of middle schools to 9:10 a.m.

But there's still a lot of resistance to the idea, with some school superintendents actually losing their jobs after supporting the idea of later school times, wrote editorialist Kyla Wahlstrom, of the University of Minnesota.

And even with this new evidence, it's not clear if such changes would work at all schools or i
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