Hilton Head Island High School's new later start time has drawn national attention -- from "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams."
NBC reporter Janet Shamlian visited the high school Monday to speak with principal Amanda O'Nan and students about their new 8:35 a.m. start time that began this school year -- about an hour later than the 7:45 a.m. start in previous years.
The news report aired on Monday night's show, coinciding with the release that day of an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement recommending later start times for middle and high schools to combat teen sleep deprivation.
According to the statement and other studies, sleep deprivation can cause physical and mental-health problems in teens, put them at an increased risk of automobile accidents and hurt their academic performance.
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The natural sleep cycle for students in middle and high schools makes it difficult for them to go to bed before 11 p.m., according to the AAP, and even more difficult for them to be up for a class at 7:30 a.m., or sometimes earlier. That is why the organization of more than 60,000 pediatricians is recommending that schools delay start times.
O'Nan said she hopes the change will help students become well-rested and safer on their way to school, as well as more engaged and focused.
Although the school has been operating under the new start for only a week and doesn't yet have any numbers to gauge its success, many students and teachers say they're fans of the change.
"I thought the taping went well. ... And it was a neat experience, too," O'Nan said in an email about the NBC report. "I am glad they came and shared with the nation how the later start time should truly benefit all students."
After evaluating students' grades and tardiness throughout the year, the school district will decide whether to roll out later start times at its other high schools, superintendent Jeff Moss has said.
Moss has not indicated whether he would consider a later start for middle schools, as well. Attempts Monday to reach him were unsuccessful.
Some schools and districts across the country, including in Minnesota and Rhode Island, have already made the change and have seen positive results, according to the studies. For example, fewer depressive symptoms were seen among students after the change; students reported they felt more alert, and many saw their grades improve.
Many other districts are contemplating the delayed start, which is why the AAP decided to weigh in on the debate.
"The AAP is making a definitive and powerful statement about the importance of sleep to the health, safety, performance and well-being of our nation's youth," Dr. Judith Owens said in the policy statement.
Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement
- Later start for Hilton Head High students deemed success, so far, August 22, 2014
- Study: Impact of School Start Times on Adolescent Health and Academic Performance
- Study: Sleep In? Dream On?
- Hilton Head schools face traffic troubles on first day of school, August 18, 2014
- Hilton Head High to have later start time next school year, March 8, 2014
- Early high school start times affect teens' ability to learn, studies find, August 21, 2010