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September 18, 1996

Some Schools Agree to Let Sleeping Teens Lie

Author Affiliations

JAMA contributor

JAMA. 1996;276(11):859. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540110013007

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HIGH SCHOOL will open at 8:30 AM this fall, 65 minutes later than last year, in Edina, Minn, a Minneapolis suburb. School officials hope the 1300 students in grades 9 through 12 will get more sleep and, as a result, be sharper in class.

Area physicians lobbied for the new hours. The Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) wrote the state's 450 school district superintendents in 1994, noting that puberty resets the internal biological clock, prompting teenagers to go to bed later and to need to sleep later than younger children. The MMA cited studies linking inadequate sleep with lower grades and more frequent car crashes. It urged high schools to open at 8 AM or later.

"When the medical community speaks out on an issue of health," said Kenneth Dragseth, Edina superintendent of schools, "it carries a lot of clout."

'A Complex Affair'  Changing school opening and dismissal times is a