Changing school start times in Portage County, Ohio...

This page is devoted to the initiative to change school start times for adolescents in 6th through 12th grades in Portage County.  Research has shown that school start times before 8:30 am contribute to chronic sleep deprivation among adolescents - due in large part to the fact that puberty creates a later 'shift' in the body's biological clock.  Unfortunately much of the research is hidden away in scholarly journals or government reports.  This website attempts to bring the data to the public.  Below is a brief review of the research.  A more comprehensive look in included in 'The Research' page.
 

Adolescent Sleep Needs:

·         Adolescents require 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep per night. (Carskadon et al, 1980; Wahlstrom, 2003)

·         Less than 10% get the required sleep.  Most adolescents sleep 6.75 hours on school nights. (O’Brien, 2005)

·         Weekend ‘catching up’ on sleep does not work. (Bergin and Bergin, 2009)

Puberty:

·         Puberty marks a later shift in the circadian rhythm - as measured by melatonin levels in saliva. 

·         Because of these biological factors adolescents have a difficult time falling asleep before 11pm. 

·         Therefore early bed times to compensate for early wake times do not work, and instead most teens with early school start times are chronically sleep-deprived.(Carskadon, 1993; Crowley, Acebo and Carskadon, 2007: Wahlstrom, 2003)

  Effects of Chronic Sleep Deprivation:

·         Increased automobile accidents (Danner and Philips, 2008; NCSDR, 1997)

·         Poorer academic performance and grade failure/ ‘flunking’ a grade level. (Kahn et al, 1989)

·         Poorer attention and problem solving. (Gibson et al, 2006; Kilgore et al, 2007)

·         Mood swings, low frustration tolerance. (Bates et al, 2002; Gibson et al, 2006)

·         Increased risk-taking: violence, drug use, sexual activities, unsafe behaviors. (O’Brien, 2005)

·         Lowered immune system. (National Sleep Foundation, 2009)

·         Obesity, including effects on hormones that regulate appetite. (Must and Parisi, 2009; Taheri et al, 2004)