The Atlantic

Why Are Parents Afraid of Later School Start Times?

A new paper argues that using behavioral economics to ease families’ fear of change could help convince them to switch up their children’s routines.
Source: James Brooks / AP

All of my high-school memories, even the best ones, are tinged with exhaustion: the full-body ache of dragging myself into bed at midnight at the end of a long day of school and homework, the terror of staring down traffic lights in the hope they’d change as I raced to arrive by our 7:10 AM start time. My friends and I talked incessantly about how tired we were, and our parents talked about it, too, but no one ever seemed to float the idea that we should be making a change. It was just the way things were.

has shown that early school start times (7:30 a.m., for example) don’t square with adolescents’ sleep needs, and that later ones have positive effects on mental and physical health, as well as . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have even urged policymakers to move toward later start times—scientists

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