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Lower Merion School District


Sleep and School Start Time Study, Report & High School Sleep Survey

In March 2014, LMSD and the ISC brought national sleep expert and pediatrician Dr. Judith Owens to speak to our school community on Sleep and the Teenage Brain. In August 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated "chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common, and easily fixable, public health issues in the U.S. today," and recommended that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later in order to optimize student health and learning (followed by identical recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other medical organizations in subsequent years).

In response to the continued community interest, LMSD Acting Superintendent Dr. Wagner Marseille and School Board President Dr. Robin Vann Lynch authorized the ISC to conduct a short-term study on the issue of sleep and later start times for LMSD high schoolers. The ISC committee's charge was to meet with a number of administrators to discuss the impact of a change in school start time, both in terms of opportunities presented, challenges, and logistical issues. This report is a result of those interviews with over two dozen administrators and staff during March and April 2015, and was presented to Dr. Marseille and sent to the Board of School Directors on May 1, 2015.

In June 2015, both LMSD high school principals sent out a survey to all Harriton and LMHS students about their sleep patterns, receiving over 1200 responses (a 50% response rate). The results were consistent with much of the national teenage sleep research. Students' average amount of sleep on school nights was 6.5 hours, with only 3.6% getting "adequate sleep" (8.5 hours or more, as defined by the medical researchers). For further details about the survey results,  click here.

We are very grateful for the input and thoughtful consideration from administrators and staff throughout our school communities.

The ISC Healthy Start Times Committee
Lisa Prosnitz & Amy Norr
May, 2019