A study at a small private high school in Rhode Island indicates that students benefit significantly from starting school later in the day.
The research, conducted by a sleep expert with Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, R.I., found that a delay in school start time of only 30 minutes was associated with significant improvements in adolescent alertness, mood and health. The findings from Dr. Judy Owens and a team of researchers were published in the July issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
During the winter term at St. George’s School in Newport, R.I., the start time was delayed by 30 minutes, to 8:30 a.m., and more than 200 students took part in the study by filling out surveys before and after the schedule change.
The study found that on school nights, students slept an average of 45 minutes longer after the change in the school start time. The surveys showed drastic declines in the number of students who felt they "rarely/never" got enough sleep (69 percent to 34 percent), and those reporting "never" being satisfied with their sleep (37 to 9 percent).
"The results of this study add to the growing literature that supports the potential benefits of such an adjustment to better support adolescents’ sleep needs and circadian rhythm in order to improve the learning environment and their overall quality of life," the researchers concluded.