Starting School Later will Improve Performance in Sports and Decrease Inuries!

Extracurricular Activities and Sports Won’t Be Hurt by Starting School Later; In Fact, It Will Get Better!!!

Extracurricular Activities and Sports Won’t Be Hurt by Starting School Later; In Fact, It Will Get Better!!!

Start School Later as a group is asking Howard County to open all schools after 8:00am.  Please sign our petition if you agree: http://tinyurl.com/sslhoco  I’ve written before that I’d love to see high schools in Howard County start after 8:30. Actually, I’d like to see this done across the state and the US.  It just makes sense for our kids.   One of the most common objections to starting school later is that the later times will interfere with extracurricular activities and sports.  This simple does not have to be true.

                The easiest way to address after school activities is to simply push them back.  In Howard County, starting at 8:30 would mean pushing sports back by 60 minutes.  Other school systems that have done this have not shown any problems.  In fact, many showed improvements!  Kids show fewer injuries and homework takes less time!  How is that even possible you might ask?  The answer is that not only does starting school later help grades, behavior, and attendance; it also helps decrease sports injuries while decreasing the time needed to do homework because kids are more effective when they are not chronically sleepy.

                The American Academy of Pediatrics released a study showing “Adolescent athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly slept less” (Lack of Sleep Tied to Teen Sports Injuries, American Academy of Pediatrics,  www.AAP.org, October 21, 2012)  Let me state that again!  Kids who get enough sleep are 68% less likely to get injured!  This is significant.  Another study looking at the effects of sleep on college basketball players demonstrated that “peak performance can only occur when an athlete’s overall sleep and sleep habits are optimal” (Sleep, Effect of Sleep Extensions on Athletic Performance; Vol 34, No. 7. 2011) This study had shown improvements in shooting percentages, improved reaction times, faster sprint times, decreased fatigue, improved vigor, and an improvement in mood.  These two studies show results typical of multiple other studies demonstrating the advantages allowing our kids to get the sleep they need. 

                Think about it, allowing our kids to go to school after getting a good night’s sleep can be done for free, it can improve school performance while decreasing mood issues like depression and anxiety.   We already know kids who get enough sleep are tardy less often and miss fewer days of school.  They also go to the health room less often during the day but apparently they will also go to the nurse less after school because they are less likely to get hurt – 68% less likely!  That really is a big number touted by our kid doctors (pediatricians).  On top of all this, they will do better at sports!  What are we waiting for?

                Encourage the Howard County Board of Education to officially recognize the large and compelling body of research regarding teen sleep and academic achievement, and, with a resolution, to set a goal to start all schools in Howard County, MD, after 8:00 AM.  Sing our petition at http://tinyurl.com/sslhoco

Yours in Service,

Mark Donovan

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