Jonathan Allardyce (illustrations)


CCSS: 6.SP.B.4, 6.SP.B.5, 7.SP.B.3, 8.SP.A.1, MP1, MP5, MP6

TEKS: 6.12A, 6.12B, 6.12C, 6.12D, 6.13A, 7.6G, 7.12A, 8.5C, 8.11A

More Zzz’s, Please!

Freshman year was tough for Sam Pigman. Classes at his Seattle high school began at 7:50 a.m. But Sam and his classmates felt tired during first period. “People were groggy and not super focused,” Sam says.

That changed in the fall of 2016, when Seattle officials postponed start times for public middle and high schools. They did it based on growing evidence that most teens don’t get enough sleep. Sam’s high school starts at 8:45 now. “That extra hour helped me a lot,” says Sam, who graduated in June.

Sleep is crucial for both mental and physical health, says Horacio de la Iglesia, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington. When sleeping, our brains process information and our bodies make repairs for the next day. But unlike young kids or adults, most teens don’t feel sleepy until around 11 p.m. That means it’s hard for them to get the recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep if they have to wake up super early for school.

De la Iglesia wanted to know if the later start time helped students sleep more. He asked students like Sam to wear activity wristbands that tracked when they slept and woke up. The results were striking: Students got an average of 34 minutes more sleep per night after the time change. Their grades and attendance also improved.

De la Iglesia hopes his work will help convince more schools to start later. “We can’t change students’ biology, so we might as well change their schedule,” he says.

Google Quiz

Click the Google Quiz button below to share an interactive version of the questions with your class. Click Download PDF for the non-interactive blank Answer Sheet.

Download PDF

Jonathan Allardyce (illustrations)

Answer the following questions using the information in the charts and graphs above. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

How much daily sleep do schoolchildren need?

A. 7-9 hours

B. 8-10 hours

C. 9-12 hours

D. 10-13 hours

About how many days on average were students tardy at Franklin High School with a 7:50 a.m. start time?

A. 3

B. 6

C. 13

D. 15

What percent of high schoolers surveyed said they prefer a school start time of 8:30 a.m. or later?

A. 16%

B. 25%

C. 76%

D. 96%

Which age group needs 8 hours of sleep at minimum?

A. toddlers

B. preschoolers

C. adults

D. teenagers

What’s the minimum fraction of a day—in simplest form—that infants should be asleep?

A. 1/2

B. 6/12

C. 3/4

D. 7/12

On average, about how many more days were Roosevelt High School students absent than tardy with a start time of 8:45 a.m.?

A. 5

B. 7

C. 10

D. 13

How many high schoolers surveyed preferred a school start time of 9:00 a.m., rounded to the nearest whole number?

What is the range in hours of sleep needed by a teenager for 1 year?

What is one conclusion you can draw about the effect of school start times on attendance in these two Seattle high schools?

Poll your class on what time they think school should start. Customize your own poll using the Google form below. Tally the data. Then create a circle graph on a separate sheet of paper to represent the data.

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