When schools start their days later in the morning, the biggest winners may actually be the parents! A new study finds moving back the start times for middle and high school students by an hour helps the parents of these adolescents get more sleep each week.
Researchers from National Jewish Health in Colorado conducted the first-ever review of how school start times impact parents, instead of their kids. As part of the study, the Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) adjusted their start times so elementary schools would start an hour earlier, middle schools delayed classes by 50 minutes, and high schools started 70 minutes later.
The team then surveyed parents and focus groups about how they all adjusted to the change in schedules and how it impacted their sleep.
Results show moving the school day up for elementary school students did little to affect their parents’ schedule. The study finds moms and dads of younger children shifted to slightly earlier bedtimes and wake times to meet the new school schedule, but this didn’t change their sleep duration.
Meanwhile, parents of middle and high school students generally kept their bedtimes the same but were able to sleep longer each morning thanks to the later school start times.
“For some parents, it was just nine or 10 minutes, but for others, it was up to 25 minutes a night,” Dr. Meltzer reports. “Over the course of the week, even 10 minutes a night can add up and become almost an extra hour of sleep per week.”
The study also found a higher percentage of parents getting sufficient rest each night, which researchers say means getting at least seven hours of sleep. Additionally, fewer parents of middle and high schoolers reported feeling tired throughout their days.
The findings are published in the journal Sleep Health.