Detroit high school students might get more sleep with proposed change to start times

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click to enlarge Detroit high school students might get more sleep with proposed change to start times
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Some Detroit teens might get to press the snooze button a few more times each morning, according to one Detroit district’s new plan.

Detroit Public School Community District unveiled the policy, which has been deliberated for two years, on Monday, according to Chalkbeat Detroit. It would move high school start times in the district from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., with a final bell ring at 4:20 p.m.

“The research is overwhelming that it is best to start later than earlier when you are talking about high school students,” Nikolai Vitti, district superintendent, told Chalkbeat.

Students ages 13 to 18 should sleep between 8 and 10 hours a day on a regular basis to maintain optimal health, according to the Academy of Sleep Medicine. A failure to do so can lead to health issues like being overweight, symptoms of depression, and not performing well in school.

“During puberty, adolescents become sleepy later at night and need to sleep later in the morning as a result in shifts in biological rhythm,” according to the Centers for Disease Control for Prevention. This is because “their nocturnal melatonin production shifts several hours later than what occurred when they were younger — or when they become adults,” according to the Brookings Institution. As such, the Americana Academy of Pediatrics has stated that high schools should start after 8:30 a.m.

Later start times lead to more favorable academic results, according to several studies, and schools around the country — including in Berkley and Dearborn — have employed later start times. However, the average school start time is 8:03 a.m.

There are concerns about how the change might affect younger students, as the time change for high schoolers would result in a change of bus schedules in the district. This would result in younger students at several elementary schools having to wake up earlier, as well as potentially walking in the dark, according to Chalkbeat. The later end time might also affect sports practices and other after-school activities for high school students.

The plan would lead to a reduction of 30 bus routes, resulting in savings of $814,717. The Detroit Federation of Teachers told Chalkbeat they plan to discuss the plan with the district soon.

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