School start time changes and sleep patterns in elementary school students

Published:April 01, 2015DOI:



      Research finds significant sleep deprivation among adolescents with early school start times. This study surveyed sleep patterns in elementary school students before and after a district-wide change to earlier start times.


      Students in grades 3-5 completed a self-administered sleep survey in the spring of 2009 (third grade, n = 216; fourth grade, n = 214; fifth grade, n = 259; total, n = 689) and again in 2010 (third grade, n = 168; fourth grade, n = 194; fifth grade, n = 263; total, n = 625), after the school start time switched from 8:20 am to 7:45 am in the Fall of 2009. Students entering grade 3 experienced a larger shift from 9:10 am to 7:45 am, due to moving from the kindergarten-second-grade building to the third-to-fifth-grade building. Descriptive statistics quantified responses by grade.


      Prechange, wake time across all grades was similar; postchange, fourth and fifth graders woke on average 30-40 minutes earlier than children in those grades the year before, and third graders woke on average 8 minutes later. Compared to prechange, third graders reported longer average total sleep times (24 minutes); fourth and fifth graders reported average sleep times 4 and 9 minutes shorter, respectively, than students in those grades the previous year. The percentage of students in each grade reporting later weekend wake and bed times decreased postchange. Reports of sleepiness somewhat increased for fifth graders postchange.


      School start time change did not decrease total amount of sleep. This is the first study of its kind to report on the effects of a start time change in elementary school students.


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