A new study published in the Journal of Sleep Research shows that starting school at later times are more beneficial to students. Apparently, teens who go to school at an earlier time are more tired and do not get enough sleep.
On the other hand, if their classes start late, the health and grades of the students could improve. McGill University researchers also said that delaying school start times would also give the students a better chance for success.
“It is time that we have a conversation about school start time in Canada,” points out the study lead author Geneviève Gariépy, a post-doctoral student in McGill’s Institute of Health and Social Policy, according to Science Daily. Previous studies have already shown that teens who do not get enough sleep perform worse at school. They are also more likely to have health problems, like depression, anxiety and other behavioral issues.
“The problem is that early school start times conflict with the natural circadian clock of teenagers,” adds Gariépy. “As teenagers go through puberty, their circadian clock gets delayed by two to three hours. By the time they reach junior high, falling asleep before 11 p.m. becomes biologically difficult, and waking up before 8 a.m. is a struggle. Adolescents are fighting biology to get to school on time.”
The research team studied data that included 30,000 students from 362 Canadian schools. Typically, classes start in the Canadian schools from around 8:00 to 9:30. Frank Elgar, co-author of the study says that starting classes late was better. The research team found a strong association between later school start times and better sleep for teens, the co-author adds.
“Changing school start times involves consultations among various stakeholders, and logistical issues such as bus schedules,” asserts Gariépy. “But these challenges can be overcome. A later school start-time policy has the potential to benefit a lot of students.”