Sleeping Girl - CC d_t_vos

Schools all over Massachusetts are boosting student health and performance with a policy that gives youth an extra hour of sleep.

Most Boston schools have a start time of 7:35 a.m., and with the hour of travel time students often need to set aside in the mornings, teens only get an average of 6 hours of sleep. Although many studies have already been published about the health and academic benefits of well-rested youth, few schools have morning bells after 8:00 a.m.

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“Some kids are exposed to the same degree of sleep loss for four or five years,” Judith Owens, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital told the Boston Globe. “It’s not a good thing. . . . If you are asking teenagers to get up at 5:30 or 6, that is their lowest point of alertness in their 24-hour cycle. It’s at that point where their brain is most loudly saying ‘stay asleep.’”

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The Globe investigated several high schools experimenting with pushing their morning start time back to 8:30 a.m., letting their students sleep an extra hour every night.

The switch produced positive results almost immediately: test scores went up, the number of Ds and Fs dropped by half, rates of tardiness and absence went down, and teen related car crashes decreased dramatically.

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Students said they did not mind being kept in school until 3:00 p.m. because the later start time made them feel better rested and less likely to fall asleep while in class.

New legislation for a delayed morning bell is currently being discussed by the school boards with possible implementation as early as 2017.

(READ the full report in the Globe) –Photo by d_t_vos, CC

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