Students’ Health Impacted by Early School Timings

Students’ Health Impacted by Early School Timings Students’ Health Impacted by Early School Timings

Students’ health, safety and academic performance are at risk due to the early start time of schools in most countries, according to new research.

Morning can often be a challenging period for tired students as they prepare themselves for the coming day, but should they be getting up so early?

According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, earlier this month, the answer is no. Sleep is particularly critical for teenagers, but many do not get enough.

Between 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep per night are recommended for teenagers. However, the proportion of high school students in the US who fail to get enough sleep is estimated to be 2 out of 3 and has remained thus since 2007, reports

To investigate the role of school timing on students’ sleep patterns, researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Education reviewed data from the 2011-2012 Schools and Staffing Survey of nearly 40,000 public, middle, high and combined schools.

They found the majority of middle and high schools were starting the day too early. Fewer than 1 in 5 schools began at the recommended time of 8.30 am or later.

Lead author Anne Wheaton, PhD, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Population Health explains the importance of sleeping.

“Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health, safety, and academic performance. Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need.”

The study concludes by strongly recommending schools start later, but also warns other factors must be addressed to have a significant effect.

It says health care professionals, especially those working in schools, should be raising awareness of the importance of adequate sleep.

To combat this, the study recommends pediatricians take an active approach supporting and educating families on healthy sleeping habits. In particular, parental involvement in setting bedtimes and supervising sleep practices is encouraged, such as the use of a “media curfew.”