PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – In the past two years, schools in states including Oklahoma, Georgia and California have pushed back the start of their school bells resulting in improvement in their students. The change was already made by districts in Connecticut, Kentucky and Minnesota.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota studied the effects on eight high schools in three states before and after they switched their start time. The study sponsored by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded that the students were overall better off with a later start time.
The important areas included mental health, sleep health, car crash rates, attendance and grades on testing.
Dr. Elizabeth Miller, the chief of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, finds this study very promising and is excited with the results. She says we’ve proven the fact that adolescents need eight to nine hours of sleep a night to keep up with their hormones.
She continues that sleep is important for all of us to recuperate after a day but more important for teenagers who are also developing hormonally. There was an example she gave of a school putting WiFi on buses so students can continue to do homework while they’re traveling. She says “little changes” like that can make a “big improvement.”
“Here are school districts that basically brought together parents, school administrators, teachers, community members, saying let’s figure this out,” said Dr. Miller. “To be able to say this is how we did it, and look at our outcome, it’s really quite profound.”
“I was incredibly excited to see these study results because you know there are two pieces to this story, one is that adolescents across our country need more sleep. And I think that’s something that all of us are quite aware of,” said Dr. Miller. “But I think the second and most exciting part is that a very straight forward policy change can result in significant improvement in adolescent health and behavior.”