Some Illinois school districts are considering moving back the start of their school day due to studies that show early-morning start times hurt students’ performance.
The results of an American Academy of Pediatrics sleep study showed that puberty pushes back adolescents’ internal clocks up to two hours. This makes teens less productive when school days start early. Emergency room doctor Nitin Soorya is leading a push in suburban Chicago to move school start times to after 8:30 a.m. Soorya said sleep is paramount to well-being in adolescents.
“Every facet of adolescent life is tied to when they wake up. If you tinker with their natural rhythms, it comes with serious consequences,” Soorya said.
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Schools in Elgin, Naperville, Barrington, Lake Forest and Arlington Heights are all exploring later start times. Normal school district decided in March to move its high school start times back.
Elise Rebmann from Southern Illinois said her Edwardsville school district’s 7:15 a.m. start time is too hard on her teenager.
“It’s very early, but she has her coffee when she wakes up at 5 [a.m.],” Rebmann said. “She tries to go to bed at about 9 [p.m.], but it’s hard for her to fall asleep, so we give her melatonin on occasion.”
Rebmann and more than 200 other Southern Illinoisans make up a chapter of Start School Later, a Maryland-based organization that pushes for later start times in schools.
School board officials in Edwardsville decided it was too costly to change bus routes for a later start time.