Students at Ridgewood High School will be able to catch more zzz’s come September. On Monday, the Ridgewood school board approved a change to a later start time for classes. Starting in September, high school will start at 8:20 am, 35 minutes later than the current start time. The change comes on the heels of a poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University┬áthat revealed NJ residents would support legislation in favor of later start times.

There have been concerns nationwide that teenagers are not getting enough sleep, which affects everything from academic performance to safety behind the wheel and likelihood of risk-taking behaviors.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average school start time in NJ is 7:51 am — that’s the 12th earliest average start time in the nation. Other high schools have recently made the switch, including Chatham High School and Princeton High School, which both now start at 8:20 am and Burlington City High School which switched its start time from 7:40 am to 8 am. In Highland Park, the high school start time is on the later side at 9:02 am.

Opponents of the later start times cite trouble with bus routes, school sports schedules and after-school activities as reasons to keep an early start time. Others worried that a later start time could conflict with parents’ work schedules. But the research shows that teens’ biological clocks are wired for them to be awake later at night and to sleep later in the mornings (proving that it’s not just a tech addiction that’s keeping them up at night). Not getting eight hours of sleep can increase teens’ risk for obesity, mental health issues and risk for injury and inattention.

Overall, school districts are beginning to view 8:30 am as the benchmark for giving teens the chance to get enough shut-eye so they can succeed.

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