When kids don’t get enough sleep, it can have a negative impact on their memory, learning ability as well as their mental and physical health. So a Colorado school district did a two-year study to see if pushing back school start times to later in the morning helped students get more of the shut-eye they desperately need. The Cherry Creek School District let middle and high schools begin their school day later and found it did lead to kids getting extra sleep.
To make the changes work with bus schedules for the 28-thousand students in the district, elementary schools started an hour earlier and researchers found it didn’t make a significant difference in their sleep times. But the high schoolers who started 70 minutes later than usual in the morning? Those teens were getting an additional 45 minutes of sleep a night by starting after 8:30 a.m.! And middle schools delayed start times by 40 to 60 minutes, resulting in an extra 29 minutes of sleep for those students.
"Delaying middle and high school start times is a critical health policy that can quickly and effectively reduce adolescent sleep deprivation with minimal impact on younger students," explains study author Dr. Lisa Meltzer ,a pediatric psychologist. Since this study mainly focused on the results for middle and high schools, she wants to do further research to find out the optimal start times for elementary school students next.