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Later school start times may improve sleep in adolescents and decrease risk of auto accidents
Date:12/15/2008

l population of middle and high-school students enrolled in the county) filled out the same questionnaire. School times during Year One were 7:30 a.m. for high schools and 8 a.m. for middle schools. In Year Two high schools and middle schools started one hour later at 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Separate crash rates were computed for the county that changed high school start times and for the state as a whole. State-collected measures of collision statistics by age and residence of driver were used to compute crash rates per 1,000 licensed drivers for teen drivers before and after the change in school start times in both the county in which the start times changed and in the rest of the state where start times remained unchanged.

The county crash rates were considerably higher than the rest of the state prior to the change in school start times. According to the authors the elevated crash rates may have been caused by the fact that the study county was in the center of a rapidly expanding metropolitan area. Phillips attributed the decrease in auto accidents after the change in school start times to improved vigilance, as the students were able to get more sleep.

The authors report that both social and biological pressures appear to cause a shift in sleep patterns during the transition to adolescence, with the result that adolescents stay up progressively later. As a result, adolescents get an inadequate amount of sleep due to early school start times, which increases their daytime sleepiness and may in turn increase their odds of crashing their vehicles while driving.


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Contact: Kelly Wagner
kwagner@aasmnet.org
708-492-0930
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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