Later start time for teens improves grades, mood, and safety

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KYLA L. WAHLSTROM ( is a senior research fellow and lecturer in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.


  • Rhea McKinney

    Here is an idea: go to bed earlier. My honor students in advanced level course work had no problem functioning at high level at 7:15 am.

    • Kaya

      Although your students may have no problem working in the morning it doesn’t meant that sleeping earlier applies to all adolescents and people. I am currently a high school student and I deal with extracurricular activities and ap classes. Due to hormones teens have a harder time falling asleep which causes them to wake up later. Another thing you should look at is the work load that they have to do and when they end their practices (if they have any). Also if you were to wake up early (not naturally waking up) it could lead to problems with cognitive ability and it can affect how you function in the morning for 2-4 hours (refer to ‘Snoozers Are, In Fact, Losers’)


      Some students may have extracurricular activities such as sports or forensics

    • Ben Rogge

      This is the most ignorant thing I have ever read. Just because your students are doing fine in the class doesn’t mean students around the world have the same situation. Have you taken time to talk to your students about their life and their health? Or are you just assuming they are okay because they have that perfect A. And if you actually look at research you will find that teens produce melatonin at a delayed schedule, causing them to have no choice of going to bed early because frank;y they are not tired. Maybe you should ask your students about how they feel and do some research before you comment.

    • anonymous

      as a middle schooler, my grades last year from when they had us wake up earlier in the morning have increased with a small addition of extra credit in which last year I would rather fail then do extra credit and Rhea one reason your honor students are working so well is because they don’t want to fail have you ever actually asked them how they feel

    • Luke

      Wow, genius argument. I liked the way you addressed the evidence here about improved grades and didn’t just throw out a stupid comment and expect something to happen

  • suzan

    okay Rhea, some students try to go to sleep earlier, but they are overloaded with homework. Having that extra time in the morning to either catch up on sleep or have a decent breakfast would be very beneficial.

  • madison

    Students in the high school or middle school age he to wake up very early n the morning. Us students do not have the time to go to be very early each night of the work because, we have extra curricular activities after school and we have hours of homework each night. I think some middle school and high schools should have a later start time to make sure we do stay on track in school and make the most of our time each and every day

  • anonymous

    I may be wrong but this sentence is a little worrying “Athletic schedules that may result in a student-athlete missing part of a class at the end of the day.” as you can see whatever sport starts before 3:45 P.M. may be little much for your child because moving a 6:00 o’clock schedule up to an 8:00 o’clock one would be two hours more after school so in my opinion that does not give your child enough time to rest.

  • Jacob

    I may be wrong but I’m 11 years old and my bed time is 8 and I go to school a 7:30a.m and I’m always exhausted and I feel like I get no sleep at all what time should I really go to bed

    (March 22) 2018

  • Emily

    While many students can do things to adapt to an earlier sleep schedule by using tools like a sleep mask, blackout curtains, or a noise machine to help relax the mind and body for sleep, many others participate in after school activities that require their time before and/or after school. This may mean they must commit more time in the evenings to doing homework or studying.

    However, implementing a later start time is not without consequences. Many school districts must run multiple bus routes in order to ensure all students are at school on time, and students will still have to be up early in order to catch their bus. Student involved in athletics would be required to miss more class in the afternoons in order to make it to their games/matches OR push the start times of these events back, allowing for less daylight during these events, and meaning students would get home even later, still needing to do homework and studying (when their brains are getting tired). Their entire schedule would simply be shifted by a couple of hours, not actually solving anything.

  • anderson

    great suggestions

  • Sam

    i never sleep and i don’t regret it

    • Ally

      Well Sam i don’t know if you are in school or not but 8 to 9 hours of sleep is important

    • anonymus

      I highly doubt you don’t sleep without regret that can cause serious damage to your brain not including the fact that your body does not have a sleep schedule

  • Emma

    Hey, right now I’m an eighth grader, and we are doing editorials. I decided to do mine on later starting times because I suffer from insomnia. I found this article is pretty easy to relate to. Our schools starting time is eight am, earlier than the recommended time. It’s not just me suffering through, the consequences affect almost everyone in the school. We’ve had many drozy teens driving to school, and getting in crashes, and were known for having really bad grades. I’m positive the schools staring time has contributed to this, and now that I know that other people are experiencing similar problems, its time for me to do something about it!
    Sincerely, Emma

  • Jennifer

    Our school district is looking at making some of these changes, however it would require the elementary school kids to switch and then be going to school by 7:20 am. If it is good for older kids to get 9.25 hours of sleep, how many would you recommend for elementary school kids? My kids are not ones that are up and going at 6 am every day, no matter what. They have to get up early some days to go to work with me (we are there by 7:30) and they are dragging after having to do that 3 times a week for 3 weeks. Would making this change be good for them? I haven’t really seen much information on how it impacts elementary kids to be the ones going to school earlier since the high schoolers would be going later. And it’s not like I can get my elementary school kids in bed earlier, because I have to take them with me to any of my older kids activities because there isn’t anyone home to watch them. So they have to stay up until 9 sometimes because we don’t get home until at least 8:30 with any 7:00 pm meetings.

  • I survived

    What about going to bed earlier? My parents had us in bed by 8pm on school nights.

  • anonymous

    I have been commenting on this site for 2-3 years now, when I presented this to my administrator they made changes to school start times. The school was amazed at how well the students have responded at the change. I myself love the change as well high schools need to have later start times because it will give students like myself more time to do unfinished work before the school begins.

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