The Economic Case for Letting Teenagers Sleep a Little Later

There’s an argument to be made of which we should cut back on his activities or make him go to bed earlier to ensure of which he gets more sleep. Teens aren’t wired for of which, though. They want to go to bed later in addition to sleep later. the item’s not the activities of which prevent them via getting enough sleep — the item’s the school start times of which require them to wake up so early. More than 0 percent of high schools in addition to more than 80 percent of middle schools start before 8:30 a.m.

Some argue of which delaying school start times would likely just cause teenagers to stay up later. Research doesn’t support of which idea. A systematic review published a year ago examined how school start delays affect students’ sleep in addition to additional outcomes. Six studies, two of which were randomized controlled trials, showed of which delaying the start of school via 25 to 60 minutes corresponded with increased sleep time of 25 to 77 minutes per week night. In additional words, when students were allowed to sleep later from the morning, they still went to bed at the same time, in addition to got more sleep.


An early start to the day for high schoolers has long been customary, although there are many arguments against the item.

Gretchen Ertl for The fresh York Times

There are costs to pushing back the start times of schools, of course. Our local school system, like many others, uses the same buses for elementary, middle in addition to high school. Not wanting to start elementary school too early, the item starts high school earlier to save money on transportation. additional costs to delaying start times come after school, when later school end times result in later after-school activities. These can interfere with parents’ work schedules in addition to run into evening hours, when the item gets dark in addition to additional lighting might be necessary.

A Brookings Institution policy brief investigated the trade-offs between costs in addition to benefits of pushing back the start times of high school in 2011. the item estimated of which increased transportation costs would likely most likely be about $150 per student per year. although more sleep has been shown to lead to higher academic achievement. They found of which the added academic benefit of later start times would likely be equivalent to about two additional months of schooling, which they calculated would likely add about $17,500 to a student’s earnings over the course of a lifetime. Thus, the benefits outweighed the costs.

of which was a reasonably simple analysis, though, in addition to the item did not persuade many schools to change. A recent analysis by the RAND Corporation goes much further.

Marco Hafner, Martin Stepanek in addition to Wendy Troxel conducted analyses to determine the economic implication of a universal shift of middle in addition to high school start times to 8:30 a.m. at the earliest. of which study was stronger than the Brookings one in numerous ways. the item examined each state individually, because moving to 8:30 would likely be a bigger change for some than for others. the item also looked at alterations year by year to see how costs in addition to benefits accrued over time. the item examined downstream effects, like car accidents, which can affect lifetime productivity. in addition to the item considered multiplier effects, as alterations to the lives of individual students might affect others over time.

They found of which delaying school start times to 8:30 or later would likely contribute $83 billion to the economy within a decade. The gains were seen through decreased car crash mortality in addition to increased student lifetime earnings.

Since the item would likely take at least a year for any students affected by alterations in start times to enter the labor market, there would likely be no gains from the first year. Costs, however, would likely accrue immediately. These included about $150 per student per year in transportation costs in addition to $110,000 per school costs in upfront infrastructure upgrades. Even so, by the second year, the benefits outweighed the costs. By 10 years, the benefits were almost double the costs; by 15 years, they were almost triple.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge additional potential costs not included in of which calculation, including parental difficulty in adapting to later school start times. although even in a design where the per-student, per-year cost was increased to $500, which would likely compensate most parents for delays, in addition to where the upfront per school cost was increased to $330,000, the economic benefits to society would likely still outweigh the costs from the long run.

Further, the item’s important to understand of which these benefits may actually be underestimates. The researchers were careful to design only outcomes for which they had empirical data via sleep duration, such as car crashes in addition to academic performance. They didn’t design additional real, although quantifiably unknown, benefits, like improvements in rates of depression, suicide in addition to obesity, or the overall effects on health.

Some schools are beginning to take of which seriously, although not enough. When the item comes to start times, the growing evidence shows of which forcing adolescents to get up so early isn’t just a bad health decision; the item’s a bad economic one, too.

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