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Teens Shouldn't Be Sleepless In Seattle, Task Force Says

Garfield High School
Flickr Photo/Don Brubeck (CC-BY-NC-ND)
School starts at 7:50 a.m. at Garfield High School in Seattle's Central Area. For teenagers prone to sleeping in, that can result in a sleepy first period.

A task force has overwhelmingly voted to flip the current bell schedule for Seattle Public Schools to fit with doctors' recommendations. 

But task force members acknowledged that changing the bell times could be hard on families that rely on teenagers working after-school jobs – and that some young students would be walking to school or waiting for the bus before the sun is up.  

Right now, classes at most Seattle middle and high schools begin at 7:50 a.m. Elementary schools start at 8:40 a.m. or 9:30 a.m.

Sleep experts say teenagers' body clocks are biologically set to go to bed and wake up late. They say later school start times have been shown to improve grades and decrease health problems and car crashes.

Meantime, doctors say younger children naturally wake up earlier.

Seattle Public Schools convened the task force at the urging of parents, teachers, students and sleep experts. District officials have said it would be expensive and time-consuming to make big changes to the school bell schedule.

Year started with KUOW: 2008