Delaying the start of school by just 15 minutes provides many health benefits for teens, according to a new study.
To better understand how a delayed start would affect student’s well-being, researchers followed teenagers in Hong Kong, as Asians are reportedly one of the most sleep-deprived groups of adolescents.
The study, published in Sleep Medicine, involved a total of 1,173 students from two secondary schools. One of the school’s start times was changed from 7:45 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and the other kept its usual start time of 7:55 a.m. Before and after the delayed start time was in effect, students answered questions about their sleep-wake patterns, daytime sleepiness, and mental and behavioral health.
The questionnaires revealed students at the school that started later spent more time in bed and woke up later than the teens in the comparison school. As the researchers expected, their findings indicated a delayed start time improved the teen’s prosocial behaviors, peer relationships, attentiveness, mood, and overall mental health.
“School administrators and policy makers should systematically consider delaying school start tme to promote sleep and health among school-aged adolescents,” the authors wrote in their paper.
This group of researchers is not the first to recommend a later school start time. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report recommending that middle and high schools should aim for a start time no earlier than 8:30 a.m. In the United States, the average start time is 8:03 a.m., according to the American Psychological Association.