School Start Times

School Start Times

School Schedules Should Shift

George Foreman once said, “I think sleeping was my problem in school. If school had started at four in the afternoon, I’d be a college graduate today.” This comedic quote contains a kernel of truth: sleep is incredibly important for students, especially those in middle and high school. Sleep can affect many different parts of a teenager’s life either negatively or positively, based on the amount received. So, making sure students get enough rest should be one of the biggest issues on our minds when we’re deciding rules that could impact the schedule of an adolescent. 

But the facts show that our students are currently not getting enough sleep. After puberty hits, due to a change in an adolescent’s sleeping and waking rhythms, the average teenager can’t fall asleep until at least 11:00 PM. Adolescents’ shift in sleep times is a biological change, not a behavioral choice. The CDC recommends that teenagers receive 8.5 to 10 hours of sleep nightly. But high schools in LMSD start at 7:30 and middle schools start at 8:00. If a teenager fell asleep at 11 and slept the bare minimum healthy amount, a middle schooler would have just 30 minutes to get to school and a high schooler would already be late. This means that students have to forgo sleep in order to get to school on time. A study done by the CDC shows that about 2⁄3 of adolescents are regularly sleep deprived. This matched the responses to a form sent out to LMSD middle and high school students; 66% reported getting less sleep than the recommended amount. This should never be the case- school times should be structured around sleep, not the other way around.

This needs to be remedied because that level of sleep deprivation can have many negative effects. Studies done by several groups, including the Center for Disease Control, the American  Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have shown all the outcomes of low sleep levels. Low sleep levels have been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. Drowsiness increases rates of car crashes and lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off diseases. As well as this, lack of sleep has been linked to low academic achievement, poor attendance, and an increase in drop-outs. But there’s an easy solution that LMSD should employ: just move school start times back! 

Later school start times have been proven to drastically increase the amount of sleep a student receives. A study by J.A.M.A. Pediatrics showed that when schools started 45 minutes later, 3 times more students received a healthy amount of sleep. This increased amount of sleep provides an abundance of benefits. A three-year study conducted by the University of Minnesota studied public high schools in different states and the effect that school start time had on the students. When start times were moved back by an hour, attendance rates increased by 95% and student’s GPAs, on average, increased. Car crash rates for teen drivers decreased by 70% and students who received a healthy amount of sleep had 20% less depressive symptoms than sleep deprived students. So the solution seems simple: we should move back start times to receive a plethora of benefits.

But even though the science favors moving back start times, a lot of districts feel like it’s not feasible to have such a drastic change in the schedule. Transportation, extracurricular activities, and family schedules would all be affected. Often, that has been so much of a problem that school districts end up not implementing the change at all. However, later school start times are possible. There are many examples of successful changes within different school districts, including schools in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Santa Fe. More local districts, such as Radnor Township, have also implemented similar changes. We do not need to sacrifice the health of students for problems that can be and have been solved. LMSD has even suggested a plan that would allow for later start times to be put in place without causing detrimental effects. We need to push school start times back to improve mental health, increase academic success, and make sure that everyone is getting enough sleep.


Works Cited

CDC. “How Much Sleep Do I Need?” CDC, 14 September 2022,

CDC. “Schools Start Too Early | Sleep and Sleep Disorders.” CDC, 5 October 2022, Accessed 6 December 2022.

“Examining the Impact of Later High School Start Times on the Health and Academic Performance of High School Students: A Multi-Site Study Final Report February 2014.” ERIC, February 2014,;jsessionid=C8706C3C64C7FB6511FC6FBBB6366B1F?sequence=1

Owens, Judith A. “Impact of Delaying School Start Time on Adolescent Sleep, Mood, and Behavior.” JAMA Pediatrics, 5 July 2010,