Sleep Specialists Studying Optimal Start Time for Schools

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Sleep specialists are working together with Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia on a plan to change the start time of local high schools, so that students can get enough sleep.

Sleep specialists are working together with Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia on a plan to change the start time of local high schools, so that students can get enough sleep.

Almost all of the public schools in Fairfax County start at 7:20 am, but doctors, school officials, and parents are considering starting school at 8 am or later.

The team of scientists is reviewing the effects on students in other school districts that started school later to weigh the potential benefits.

Studies show that between 20 to 25 percent of students fall asleep in their first period class if it starts by 7:15 am.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70 percent of high school students don’t get the recommended nine hours of sleep on weekdays.

Kyla Wahlstrom, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Education Improvement who studied the effects of starting school later said: “Early findings indicate that grades have improved. The research is pretty clear. This is something that works to help teenagers develop their full potential.”

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