Buy the Book |  Home

Changing School Start Times in Your Community
Imagine this scenario:
Your teen gets out of bed in the morning without you having to nag at her and drag her out. She's in a pretty good mood, and there's no major hassle before she runs off to catch the school bus, with completed homework in hand. During first-period class, and for the rest of the day, she's wide awake, participates in discussions, and even asks a question or two. When she gets back the chemistry exam she took a few days ago, she's gotten an A, a huge improvement from her usual grades in the sciences. After school, during track practice, she's full of energy and her coach tells her she's going to anchor the relay at the next meet. In the evening, though she's a bit tired after a full day, she does her homework, IMs with her friends, and gets to sleep around 11. Before she drifts right off to sleep, she sets her alarm clock for 7:30 so she can get to school comfortably for her first class at 8:45.
Does this sound like a fantasy? If your teen, like most teens, has been grouchy, depressed, low performing, and often sick or energy deprived from lack of sleep, it may seem that way. But great days like this can become reality.
Having schools start just 45 minutes later can make a huge difference in your teen's life, because that can mean 45 minutes of additional sleep, with all the benefits sleep provides.
When the high schools in the Arlington, Virginia, public school system moved their start times from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m., students reported in a survey that they felt more alert and prepared for school and teachers reported improvement in both student alertness and participation. Parents noted that their teens had a much better attitude. Other schools reported significant reductions in school dropout rates, less student depression, and higher student grades as well as a number of other extremely positive outcomes.
In a study of Minnesota schools in which start times were moved an hour later, results showed that:
  • Grades trended upward
  • Discipline problems went down
  • Illness calls dropped
  • Depression among students fell
  • Students and teachers were much happier
Simply put, students who attend schools that are more in sync with their natural sleep-wake schedules are more able to learn and are happier doing it. Schools with later start times have positive effects on teachers and parents too.
Could your teen and your local schools benefit from having later school start times? In a word, yes'”and it's something both you and your teen can work toward. To help support your effort, here is some information and advice about how to support sleep-deprivation awareness in your schools and community and make later start times reality.
The National Sleep Foundation's website,, offers tons of information that will help you all along the way. The site provides fact sheets, information on a number of schools across the country that have succeeded in moving start times later, and ideas for you to consider as you go about designing your own plan and moving toward change.
The National Institutes of Health provide a free supplementary curriculum on sleep aimed at ninth- through twelfth-grade biology students. The curriculum, entitled Sleep, Sleep Disorders, and Biological Rhythms, is available in print form as well as online at You can also work at the county or state level to have sleep education incorporated into the health curriculum in all elementary, middle, and high schools.
To learn more about tips for starting your own parent group, check out Snooze or Lose or visit the S.L.E.E.P organization's website
Visit the Sleep Articles page to view articles on Later Start Times

 | Buy Snooze or Lose     Copyright 2006