What problem are we trying to solve?

  • Sleep is a basic need. It is a critical component of mental and physical health and the ability to learn.

  • Teens need 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep a night and they need it at the right time - their body clocks shift later, so getting to bed earlier than about 11PM is not a viable option.

  • The majority of New Canaan teens are getting 7 or fewer hours of sleep.

  • About 40% of New Canaan teens are getting 6 or fewer hours. In his book “Why We Sleep” Matthew Walker, PhD writes, “Sleep six hours or less and you are short-changing the brain of a learning restoration benefit that is normally performed by sleep spindles. I will return to the broader educational ramifications of these findings in a later chapter, addressing the question of whether early school start times, which throttle precisely this spindle-rich phase of sleep, are optimal for the teaching of young minds.”

  • Our teens are chronically sleep-deprived and chronic sleep-deprivation is harmful.

    • Sleep-deprived teens are less able to deal with stress, less resilient and more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

    • They are more likely to use alcohol and drugs and behave impulsively.

    • Sleep also has a profound impact on learning - we need sleep to effectively process and store new information. It is counter-productive to send a sleep-deprived child to school. Without the REM sleep of the early morning (5am-7am) hours, our teens are not as creative or as able to build connections between things they have learned as they could be.

    • Drowsy teen drivers are also a safety concern - there are more accidents caused by drowsy driving than alcohol and drugs combined.

  • Our teens cannot get adequate sleep with the current school schedule.

  • To do nothing is to continue to do harm to our teens. It also foolishly neglects to reap the many benefits of adequate sleep.

  • None of this is our opinion. Every major medical organization has recommended middle and high school start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.. Read the American Academy of Pediatrics paper on adolescent sleep and school start times for more information.