Sweet Dream? Fairfax Students Could Get Extra Hour of ZZZZs

Board will consider changing start times so kids get more sleep.

Fairfax kids could get more sleep under proposal.
Fairfax kids could get more sleep under proposal.

Wake up, kids: You may get an extra hour of sleep.

Following a study commissioned by the Fairfax County School Board, school start times could be pushed back, giving some teens up to an extra hour of sleep.

The Washington Post reports that under the possibilities to be considered:

  • High school start times could be delayed until as late as 8:30 a.m.
  • Elementary school start times also could be moved, with classes beginning between 7:45 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.
  • Middle Schools could start anywhere from 7:20 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

In four of the scenarios, which Children’s officials plan to present to the School Board on Wednesday, teenagers could gain an additional 30 minutes to an hour of sleep on weeknights.

Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children’s and an expert who helped write the new proposals, said that 55 percent of Fairfax high school seniors get less than six hours of sleep a night. The Virginia Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teenagers get at least nine hours of sleep each night. 

If approved, changes could start in time for the 2015 school year.

  • What do you think? Should school start times be pushed back? Tell us in comments below.
thenaturalhorseman April 23, 2014 at 08:13 AM
Yes please! My kids would still go to sleep at the same time and would love to not have to catch the bus at 5:50am!
The Convict April 23, 2014 at 11:01 AM
Parent your children, Parents. If your kid needs more sleep, then get them to bed earlier.
CS April 23, 2014 at 02:15 PM
Instead of trying to be your kids best friend, get them to bed earlier! I go to bed at around 930pm when I can so that I can get enough sleep to wake up at 530am to get to work by 7am! That's life! Not sure how this helps them prepare for real life where employers don't care about how much sleep you got the night before! This argument is really absurd and a waste of time.
Lisa Ross April 23, 2014 at 04:11 PM
Convict and CS, you obviously think most parents are neglectful. They are not. And my teens are in bed at 9 pm every night with no electronics. But in order to get 9 hours of sleep and still wake at 5:30 am, they would have to be in bed AND asleep at 8:30 pm. NO teen can fall asleep that early -or even at 9 or 9:30 pm. Teen biology is DIFFERENT than adult and child biology -THAT is the issue. Their melatonin does not turn on till about 10 or 11 pm and they are not alert until about 8 -9 am. Just ask any HS teacher about their first period class. That is why this is a problem -not because parents just let their teens stay up till all hour. Adults can also choose where to live and which jobs to take. So for example, I would never take a job that starts at 7 am. But FCPS kids have no choice when they have to get up and research shows they sleep is every bit as important as food for physical and mental health. For teens, it's also even more important than for adults like you two since teens are still growing. Besides the period between 0 -2 years of age, I bet the teen years are the biggest growth period for body and brain development. This issue matters.
CS April 23, 2014 at 06:07 PM
Thank you for your input, Lisa. I raised my kids and also was a kid myself. I understand how putting kids to bed earlier allows them more sleep. Not sure our biological makeup changed much since I was a kid or my children were going to school. As far as kids not being able to fall asleep? My kids had no problem because they led active lives during the day. Sleep was welcomed by bedtime. Also, you would have to be naïve to believe that many parents give their child a reasonable bedtime or a bedtime at all for that matter. I'm quite sure many parents have no idea how late their kids stay up. You are obviously an exception. It's also silly to think that kids are not going to stay up later because of this. So, all of this effort will be for naught. It hasn't impaired the growth and learning of kids thus far. Not sure I've met anyone who has been a failure because their school start at 720 instead of 820. As far as my job being a choice? Wow! Would be nice to have the luxury of choice when it comes to decent employment. I envy you for that!


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