Benefits of Starting School Later in the Morning

In the 1997-98 school year, the Minneapolis School District changed the starting time of its seven high schools to 8:40 AM. and the dismissal time to 3:20 PM. Prior to the change, classes began at 7:15 AM and dismissed at 1:45 PM. Researchers evaluated the student benefits, after this change in hours had been in place for five years.Teen girl sleeping on books.

Attendance rates improved for all 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students in the district. The greatest rate of improvement was for 9th grade students.

Letter grades were compared between 9th-12th grade students for three years before the time change (starting at 7:15 AM) and three years after the time change (starting at 8:40 AM), showing a slight improvement in grades earned overall.

Minneapolis high school students in this district continue to get an hour’s more sleep each school night or obtain five more hours’ sleep per week than students whose high schools begin an hour earlier. This finding supports the medical research that nearly all teenagers become sleepy at about 11:00 PM.

Minnesota students enrolled in schools that start the school day at 8:40 AM enjoy benefits of more sleep time revealed both in daily attendance and better grades in school. While sleep is important for all age groups, it is particularly important for our youth.

The Bible speaks to the issue of the need for rest in Psalms 127:2 where it says, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for He grants sleep to those he loves.”