Any of us who have or had teenage children know that their sleeping habits tend to be to stay up late and sleep in late.

Did you know that there is science that supports our children’s sleeping habits?

Experts tell us that the natural sleep rhythms of teenagers shift up to two hours later after the start of puberty.  In fact those teenagers have a daily inner clock that runs longer than 24 hours.  That it is difficult for them to go to sleep when the rest of the family does or at a reasonable time.

Dr. Ronald Chervin, a sleep neurologist and director of the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Centers, stated that our teenagers, as we already know from experience, often find it challenging to get up early.  A Detroit News article quotes Dr. Chervin in which he stated:

If we force them to get up earlier, they don’t make up for it by going to bed earlier. Their clock is still shifted. They end up sleep deprived

We also have the American Academy of Pediatrics who believe that children age 6 to 12 need between nine and 12 hours of sleep a night and teenagers 13 to 18 need eight to 10 hours of sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later to give teens time for sufficient sleep.

In the United States approximately 86.6% do not start their school day at 8:30 a.m. or later.  In fact more than:

  • 10% of schools start the school day before 7:30 a.m.
  • 8% before 8 a.m.
  • and 40.4% before 8:30 a.m.,

In Michigan, the start times for school typically range between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

With the findings made above some school districts are studying whether they should shift the school day starting later and finishing at an equal amount of time later.

Oakland County Michigan Berkley School District has done just that.  They have studied moving their school day for over a year and have decided, after discussion with parents to do just that.

Berkley will start the school day 40 minutes later and instead of starting school at 7:40 a.m. they have moved it to 8:20 a.m.

Andy Meloche, principal of Berkley High School, was quoted in the Detroit News article stating:

“There were would be a steady trickle of kids coming in. The kids who were everyday tardy. They were walking in like they were sleepwalking…I said this doesn’t seem best for kids, starting at 7:40.”

The South Lake School District in Macomb County moved first their start time to 8:35 a.m. and dismissal time to 3:35 p.m. and the superintendent said the impact was immediate.

In the state of Michigan there is no official start time, local school boards make that determination according to state education officials.

This all sounds reasonable to me and having raised my own children I would concur with the findings that it would probably be better for our children’s health and education to start and end the school day later.

New start and end times could be coming to your school district in the near future.

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