Would your kids be less likely to be in a traffic accident if school started later? New research says yes! I have been in several car accidents, but only one was my fault. I was 16-years old and driving my red three-speed 1965 Mustang. I left it in neutral at a stop light and hit the car in front of me.
Research shows that adolescents typically need 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal functioning, but in surveys, teens say they average around 7 hours - especially on school nights.
An experiment in one Kansas county suggests that shifting school start times by one hour results in more sleep for teens - and fewer automobile crashes as well.
Researchers from the University of Kentucky surveyed thousands of middle school and high school students both before and after a 1-hour shift in start times. Middle school began at 9 a.m. instead of 8 a.m., and high school started at 8:30 a.m. rather than 7:30 a.m. Results showed that the percentage of kids reporting 8 hours of sleep on weeknights rose from 36 percent to 50 percent.
The amount of "catch up" sleep teens needed on the weekend dropped by close to an hour. But perhaps most importantly, teen car crash rates declined 16.5% in the 2 years after the change - whereas elsewhere in the state, adolescent crash rates increased by nearly 8%.
Source: published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine