Setting Adolescents Up for Success: Promoting a Policy to Delay High School Start Times

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: A unique biological shift in sleep cycles occurs during adolescence causing later sleep and wake times. This shift is not matched by a concurrent modification in school start times, resulting in sleep curtailment for a large majority of adolescents. Chronic inadequate sleep is associated with poor academic performance including executive function impairments, mood, and behavioral issues, as well as adverse health outcomes such as an increased risk of obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. In order to address sleep deficits and the potential negative outcomes associated with chronic sleep deprivation, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) support delaying school start times for middle and high school students. METHODS: We summarize current evidence, explicate the need for policy change, and urge school districts to put adolescent students' health as top priority and implement school start times consistent with their developmental needs. RESULTS: Whereas substantial evidence illustrating adverse consequences of inadequate sleep on psychological and physical health, and recommendations exist to adapt daytime school schedules to match sleep needs have been released, actual implementation of these recommendations have been limited. CONCLUSIONS: This is a call to action for the implementation of AAP/CDC recommendations across the state and nation.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Barnes M; Davis K; Mancini M; Ruffin J; Simpson T; Casazza K
  • Start Page

  • 552
  • End Page

  • 557
  • Volume

  • 86
  • Issue

  • 7