I-LHS to start the day an hour later; research shows that kids need more sleep
By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — When the new academic year begins on Aug. 29, schools in the Inter-Lakes School District will be operating on a later schedule, reflecting recommendations from several studies on adolescent sleep.
Classes at Inter-Lakes Elementary School, I-L Middle Tier, and I-L High School will run from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. under the new schedule. Sandwich Central School will operate from 7:55 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.
The previous schedule had the elementary school operating from 8:25 a.m. to 3 p.m., the middle tier from 8:20 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the high school from 7:20 a.m. to 2:08 p.m. Sandwich Central School ran from 8:05 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.
The American Academy of Pediatrics identified insufficient sleep in adolescents as a public health issue, saying it affects health and safety as well as academic performance.
“Although a number of factors, including biological changes in sleep associated with puberty, lifestyle choices, and academic demands, negatively affect middle and high school students’ ability to obtain sufficient sleep, the evidence strongly implicates earlier school start times (i.e., before 8:30 a.m.) as a key modifiable contributor to insufficient sleep, as well as circadian rhythm disruption, in this population,” the AAP stated. “Furthermore, a substantial body of research has now demonstrated that delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and has a wide range of potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety, and academic achievement.”
The Centers for Disease Control links the lack of sleep with being overweight, not engaging in daily physical activity, suffering from depression, and engaging in unhealthy behavior such as smoking and misuse of drugs.
“A school system start time policy of 8:30 a.m. or later provides teenage students the opportunity to achieve the 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep recommended,” the CDC stated.
Based on those recommendations, the Inter-Lakes School Board voted in June to adjust the start/end times and move to a single-tier bus system for student transport.
Another perceived benefit is providing more opportunities for professional dialogue and learning across grade levels.