Mayo Doctor Eyeing Sleep Study for Students

November 15, 2018 05:48 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Later school start times are a way some school districts are trying to make sure teens get the sleep they need.

Rochester Public Schools has been considering the change for years, but a doctor at Mayo Clinic has another idea.


Jean Marvin is the Rochester School Board Chairperson, but before that she taught high school students for decades.

“First hour classes were always wonderful to teach because half the kids were sleeping, and I kept thinking, 'maybe I'm just crushingly dull,' which could've been the case,” she said.

Starting the school day later isn’t a new idea.

“It's been probably 15 or 20 years now that the district has been looking at a later start time for our middle school and high school students,” Marvin said.

“A lot of people think that if you give them that extra hour, that they'll just stay up later, but actually the studies that have been done so far show that they do use that time to sleep,” said Dr. Robert Auger, a physician at Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine.

He attended the most recent school board meeting to talk about a study he’s working on.

"We're looking at whether eyewear, glasses worn during evening hours, will help mitigate that night owl tendency, specifically by preventing light from specific types of light from entering the eyes during evening hours,” Auger said.

Over the next three years, he’d like to get at least 25 teens who are extremely affected by lack of sleep.

“The condition is called delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, DSPD, and these are teens that because of their internal clocks have a hard time falling asleep until very late hours, typically midnight or later,” he said.

He says delaying school start times is ideal, but exactly when that will happen, and if it will be a fix for all kids, is the issue.

As for Marvin, even though the study will focus on kids who have extreme trouble sleeping, she says any information is good information.

"We're really anxious to see what he finds out from that, because it may be that we need to use more than one approach,” she said.

If you want to know more about the study, call (507)255-2972 or email Deanna at 


Alice Keefe

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