Research shows teens need more sleep; Private high school moves classes to 8:50 a.m.

How does sleep affect school performance?

TAMPA, Fla. - During morning drop off time at Tampa Prep, Shannon Danielson walked her boys in.

The big difference this year, school starts at 8:50 a.m.  That's later than last year.

Joe Fenlon is one of the school administrators, directing the middle school.

"The idea started three years ago when a group of us at our state convention heard JoAnn Deak, Ph.D, talk about brain research."

They brought the researcher into the school to speak to faculty, students, and parents. Fenlon said she told them,  "students from ten to twenty usually don't fall in to good sleep until midnight or one, and with the brain that's still forming, these kids need a little more rest."

Administrators did get some push back, at first, from some parents.

"I wasn't for it at the beginning.  We always stayed up later on Thursday because Friday was a late start, and I wasn't sure my kids would go to bed sooner and get up later," said Shannon Danielson.

But she says they do, and both of her boys feel better for it.  

Her son David said,  "Last year I'd wake up and be tired for the first two periods.  This year I'm pretty awake."  

David's brother Patrick said, "Last year, math class especially I'd get really tired and almost fall asleep.  This year that doesn't happen at all."

Last year, when school started around 8:00 a.m. Jana Henson would get up at 5:45 a.m.

She likes the extra 50 minutes of sleep.

"The balancing sports and AP classes and my regular classes, its improved my learning and my dedication as a student," Henson said.

For those kids who have parents with early job starts - they can be dropped off at the student union, which opens early.

Ethel Murphy, another parent, said, "Love the change. Long overdue.  I think other schools should consider it."

Both Hillsborough and Pinellas school districts discussed the possibility of later starts for high schools, but due to busing issues and extra-curricular activities, early start time was deemed better for their districts as a whole.

Read more on Dr. Deak's research on the teenage brain here: 
http://wfts.tv/1gq4eWX and  http://wfts.tv/1eX1HWp

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