The alarm clock is blaring in your ear. You hit snooze and roll out of bed, wishing you had five more minutes to sleep, because you didn’t go to bed until 11, but you know if you do you’ll be late for school.
Does this sound familiar?
In “Adolescent Sleep, School Start Times, and Teen Motor Vehicle Crashes,” Fred Danner, Ph.D. and Barbara Phillips, Ph.D. found that teenagers biologically require more sleep, and moving school-start times back one hour can increase the amount of sleep they get, and decrease their risk of getting into auto crashes.
It is known that the average teen gets 7.4 hours of sleep and should ideally have 9.5. The combination of a biological need for more sleep, social pressures of staying up later, and earlier school-start times, means that teens are not getting the amount of sleep they need. Coupling this with inexperience on the road makes for a potentially deadly combination.
In the study, when start times were pushed back an hour, students who started school later, reported between 12 to 30 more minutes of sleep than those who started school at the regular start time. The average crash rates for those who started later decreased by 16.5 percent in the study county, and there was a 7.8 percent for the entire state.
The bottom line: pushing back school start times can increase the amount of sleep teens get, but also decrease their likelihood for getting in a crash.
To read more on the study visit the <!—->Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.