A Few Quick Q&As about Healthy School Start Times
How are school start times determined?
To a large extent, school start times have been dictated by external factors such as bus schedules, and were established before researchers had identified the numerous risks of developmentally misaligned school hours. In California, only 21% of the state’s public middle and high schools meet the 8:30 a.m. healthy start time guideline – many start before 7:30 a.m., with students needing to wake at 6 a.m. or even earlier!
My local public high school already starts at 8:30 a.m. or later.
We need to implement healthy start times for all of the 3-million-plus students in California’s public middle and high schools – not just those in districts willing to make the change of their own accord.
I don’t have kids in California’s public middle or high schools, nor do I expect to.
Healthy school start times are a public-health issue that affects our communities. In addition to the health effects on our community’s adolescents, it’s important to note the broader implications: For instance, teens and young adults are involved in more than half of all drowsy driving crashes each year!
My kid is an early bird, so this isn’t relevant for my family.
While some kids are early birds, the circadian rhythm shift of adolescence makes it difficult for the vast majority of teens to fall asleep early. When combined with too-early school start times, the result is sleep deprivation, and the resulting public health and academic issues noted above.
Can’t kids just go to bed earlier?
See previous answer.
What about sports?
Studies show that teen athletes who get 8 or more hours of sleep per night are 68% less likely to get injured. Additionally one landmark study found that student participation in sports programs actually increased after start times were moved later in the morning.
For more information, please see Myths & Misconceptions.
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