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Starting school later helps adolescents get more sleep and do better

A lot of adolescents complain about having to get going too early in the morning for school. Their complaints should be taken seriously since they need a lot of sleep to be healthy at that time in their lives. Research has shown that starting school later improves sleep and daytime functioning of adolescents, reported Science Daily on Jan. 15, 2014. Julie Boergers, Ph.D., who is a psychologist and sleep expert from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center, has recently led a study which has found an association between starting school at later times and improved sleep and mood in teens.

An exhausted young man sleeps on the beach at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

This study has been published by the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. Chronically not getting enough sleep has been a growing concern among adolescents and this is associated with a host of adverse health consequences. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of starting school later on sleep patterns, sleepiness, mood, and health-related outcomes. The researchers found that just a modest 25 minute delay in the time school was started was associated with significant improvements in sleep duration, daytime sleepiness, mood, and caffeine use.

These findings have significant implications for public policy and add to research which suggests that there are health benefits associated with modifying school schedules to more closely align with adolescents' circadian rhythms and sleep needs. It is thought if school schedules were modified in such manners we would have more students who are more alert, happier, more well prepared to learn, and who aren't dependent on caffeine and energy drinks just to help them stay awake in class. Clearly, students deserve all of the assistance they can get to enjoy a good night's sleep, without the use of drugs, as often as possible.

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