Students rejoice. When it comes to begging for a sleep in on a school morning, the experts are on your side.
A report from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) on Monday found that earlier school start times (before 8:30am) were “a key modifiable contributor to insufficient sleep, as well as circadian rhythm disruption” for students.
The AAP believes schools should move start times to 8:30 or later for primary and high schools, so that students can get the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep a night.
“Students are at risk of adverse consequences of insufficient sleep, including impairments in mood, affect regulation, attention, memory, behaviour control, executive function, and quality of life,” the report revealed.
In August, Melbourne High School principal Jeremy Ludowyke told the Herald Sun that his school was considering a 9.30am start to address adolescent sleeplessness.
“There is a good research base to say we probably ask students to start their working day a little earlier than they should,’’ Ludowyke said.
“We want to just assess the educational value of that proposition.”
Templestowe College has indicated it will operate three schedules from next year including a 10.30am to 5.15pm school day.
Later school start times may also have benefits for teachers and principals. In addition to improving their own health, later school start times can also reward school teachers and principals with happier and more conscientious students.
According to the conclusions of the report, students are likely to display significant improvements in health and academic success in association with later school start times.
‘Delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and has a wide range of potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety, and academic achievement,’ the report stated.
Convincing schools to enact changes to their start times may involve a lot of work, but proponents of the idea just might have an ace in the hole.
In addition to improving student health and performance, preventing student sleep deprivation can be “potentially highly cost-effective” for schools, according to the report.
This is backed up by a recent Brookings Institute Report, in which 63 economists suggested that delaying school start times would have a substantial benefit-to-cost ratio (9:1).
This finding was based on a conservative estimate of ‘both costs per student and the increase in projected future earnings per student in present value’ because of test score gains related to moving start times one hour later.