Digging In: Can school start times really have an effect on teen's sleep?

October 5, 2016

Julie Dahl, APRN, CNP, is a nurse practitioner who has specialized in sleep and pulmonary medicine for the majority of her career.  She has served as a content writer for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and is on the board of directors for the Minnesota Nurse Practitioners and the Minnesota Sleep Society.  In her role on the latter board, she is leading a committee of Minnesota researchers and sleep specialists in addressing the growing public health issue of sleep deprivation affecting adolescents, putting them at risk for mental, physical and emotional distress and disorders.

Minnesota was the birthplace of later school start time research back in 1996. Mahtomedi took part in a study, when changing the school start time from 7:30 to 8:00 am in 2005. This issue has been receiving more national attention since 2014 when, responded to mounting research, the American Academy of Pediatrics made a policy statement for schools to delay start times for adolescents (8:30 am or later).  A few weeks ago, the American Medical Association echoed this policy, joining the chorus of other statements from national organizations. After two decades of data, it is time for our community to start "Digging In." While this effort is going to involve local governance, education and parent engagement, the health and well-being of our children is worth the effort.