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Should Maine/New Hampshire Schools Start At A Later Time To Allow Kids To Get More Sleep?

(Photo By Mike Simons/Getty Images)
(Photo By Mike Simons/Getty Images)

AJ and I asked our listeners to weigh in on the topic of school start times, because of recent research pointing to the need for children to get more sleep.

Earlier this week, Maine Legislature’s Education Committee was discussing a bill which would not allow public high schools to start the school day before 8:30 a.m. The Portland Press Herald reported that the response to this proposal was mixed: Opponents suggested the logistics of making this happen would not be easy. However, Rep. Matthea Daughtry quoted a 2006 study by the National Sleep Foundation that found “87 percent of high school students were not getting the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep their bodies needed.”

HOM’s listeners responded with diverse opinions. An elementary school teacher suggested that it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure their kids get enough sleep. She said kids will just stay up later, if the school time is changed. “Dr. Pete,” a family doctor in Scarborough, cited studies which say some adolescents can’t go to sleep early because their brains aren’t wired that way. Their biological clock keeps them up later at night. Thus, school should start later. Dr. Pete went on to say there is less depression, less tardiness, and even less obesity among children who get more sleep.

Many parents called us to say a later start time would be too difficult for them, because of their work schedule. One lady said she started work at 7 a.m. and would need a “before school care program” in addition to after school care. Another person pointed out that it would affect extra-curricular activities such as sports.

We also heard from a college student who said her school offered late-morning classes that she was currently taking. As a result, she was making better grades.

We also posed the question on Facebook. Read through some of these comments and tell us what you think.

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