A new research has suggested that to improve current cases of insufficient sleep in US youth, school start time has a major role to play.
The study found that the associations between school start time and lower sleep duration were strongest for start times before 8 a.m. Further, for boys in major metropolitan cities, the school start times were found to be more strongly associated with sleep duration.
One main reason for the study to involve adolescents is that, along with all the other hormonal changes occurring in this age group, one of the key hormones that allows the body and brain to drift off to sleep, melatonin, is not released in adolescents until around 11 p.m.
Melatonin secretion also lasts longer, well into the morning, so that when a teenager is asked to wake up in order to get to school by 7:45 a.m, his or her brain feels like it's being woken in the middle of the night.
Sleep deprivation can hamper concentration, performance in test, and increase the chances of behavior problems, risk of motor vehicle accidents.
These adverse effects can be improved or reversed by changing our school start times to fit the physiologic and hormonal changes that naturally occur in adolescents.
However, the researchers caution that the association between start time and sleep may not be the same for all students or in all contexts. The decision to delay a school's start time involves transportation, athletics, community programs, student employment and afterschool programs.