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Lower Merion School District

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Sleep & School Start Times

Research and Development Workgroup on Adolescent Sleep and School Start Time

Over the past several years, much attention has focused on delaying the start of the school day as a way to address chronic sleep loss in adolescents. The biological changes that youth undergo with the onset of puberty lead to a shift in circadian rhythms, pushing the onset of sleepiness later into the evening than either children or adults – about 11:00 p.m. Given the recommendations for adolescents to sleep 8-10 hours per night, a bedtime of 11:00 p.m. should ideally be coupled with a wakeup time of no earlier than 7:00-7:30 a.m., depending on the length of time it takes to fall asleep with a bedtime of 11:00 p.m. These biological patterns are in conflict with early school start times, leading several organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Medical Association (AMA), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC), to recommend that middle and high school start times begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

The Lower Merion School District is examining the feasibility of shifting school start times to align with these recommendations. An administrative committee initiated as a Research and Development (R & D) Committee through the All Forward strategic plan has been working to collect information that will be needed by the Lower Merion Board of School Directors to understand the research surrounding this topic, learn from the experiences of other school districts, and consider relevant factors related to the unique context of the Lower Merion School District.

Informational updates from the All Forward Research and Development Committee’s Workgroup on Adolescent Sleep and School Start Time: 

To view more information on the Interschool Council (ISC) page, click here.

Beginning in April, 2019, a steering committee facilitated by an outside consultant will be established to develop a set of recommendations to deliver to the Board of School Directors in September 2019. Following a period of time designated to gathering community input on the recommendations, the Board of School Directors will formally respond in Winter 2019-2020.