Think About It: Sleeptalking - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

October 27, 2014

Think About It: Sleeptalking

What do Wabash High School in Indiana, Elmira High in New York, and North Olmstead High in Ohio have in common? They are all high schools that this fall began the start time of classes at least 30-minutes later. More and more studies are coming in which indicate that the circadian rhythm of teens 13-18 years old would sure be better served by starting school a bit later. Studies in the U.S., Brazil, Israel, and Italy have shown that extra sleep and a later start time for high schoolers has great benefits. Independent studies by the University of Minnesota and the U.S. Air Force Academy also show the value of responding to the internal clocks of teen brains, as the hormone melatonin kicks in during the vital high school years. 

According to September's Scientific American magazine, the positives of a later daily start time include raising attendance figures, lowering depression rates, reducing car crashes, and better grades. Seems almost like a no-brainer solution to help improve the usage of brains in high school. And surely the shift in time would help the AM traffic flow in many communities and on our highways. Yes, the bus issue and other logistics would have to be worked out, but it's been done elsewhere, and those later-starting high schools don't seem to want to go back to the zombie zone of 7:30 or 7:45am start times. Even a half-hour change has proved to be worthwhile in many schools.

As for after school sports and activities, mandated class time parameters, teacher prep work, and part-time jobs for teens, high schools that have adjusted their start clocks appear to have figured it out, for everyone. Perhaps our Department of Education, local unions and state decision-makers should look into this growing and working time concept. After all, if it leads to improved test scores, happier and more attentive students who show up for class more often and are less depressed, and with fewer car dings, well those are some very solid reasons to consider a later start time at our local high schools. Think about it…

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