More Schools Are Starting Classes Later. Here’s Why Your Child’s Should Too

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Anyone with school-age children can tell you that establishing good sleep habits is tough. When you factor in early school-start times, it gets even more challenging.

A new study in the May edition of “Journal of School Health” confirms what parents already know. Later school-start times help kids get more sleep at night.

But here’s a twist. Kids get more sleep even if they go to bed later.

Researchers studied seventh- and eighth-graders at eight schools that started about 8:00 a.m. and at three schools that started about 7:23 a.m.  

They found that students attending middle schools that start 37 minutes later get an average of 17 minutes of additional sleep on weeknights even though their average bedtime was 15 minutes later.

Seventeen minutes may not seem like a lot, but that works out to about 51 extra hours of sleep per school year, according to the study.

It’s no surprise that kids who got more sleep reported less daytime sleepiness and were more likely to be wide awake during the school day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends middle schoolers get 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours of sleep each night to lower the risk of health problems like obesity and depression.

Scool districts in Illinois, Florida and Maine recently approved later school start times.

If you’d like to encourage your school to do the same, check out for resources to help convince school officials of the importance of later start times, such as joining a local chapter of the nonprofit Start School Later or signing or starting a petition.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She enjoys telling readers about affordable ways to stay healthy, so look her up on Twitter (@lisah) if you’ve got a tip to share.