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Could later start times help students?

KAAL-TV
Updated: November 14, 2019 11:01 PM
Created: November 14, 2019 10:40 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Teens tend to stay up later and wake up later. It's not because they're lazy or are up on their phone, but it's a natural part of their development, according to medical experts. 

The Rochester Public School Board held a meeting Tuesday night where a committee discussed options to start high school and middle school classes from 7:45 a.m. to either 8 a.m. or 8:45 a.m.

The presentations come after the committee reviewed research for months that state the late start times could benefit students. 
"Their body wants them to get up late but then society wants them to get up early," said Dr. Meghna Mansukhani, a consultant for Mayo Clinic's Center for Sleep Medicine. 

Mansukhani said teens should get at least eight hours of sleep per night but more than two-thirds are not meeting that goal.

"It is not that it just increases sleepiness during the day and increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents but there are a number of physical and mental health consequences," Mansukhani said.

Consequences include increased risk of depression and substance abuse. Mansukhani said insufficient sleep could also affect academic performance.  So what about sleeping in on the weekends?

"We call it the concept of sleep debt and so you can't pay off that debt just by sleeping good on the weekends or sleeping longer on the weekends," Mansukhani said. 

Students also take advantage of sleep when given the option, according to research. 

"Part of the honors is on the parent and the children but a lot of it is just how their days are structured," Mansukhani said. "There are pros and cons to that debate about moving school start times but we do feel it would be helpful for the health of our teenagers."

Mansukhani said studies show when teens get more sleep, it can reverse health problems that arise from insufficient sleep.
RPS plans to hold a meeting to gather public feedback in the future. 

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