Fairfax County Public Schools working with sleep specialists on - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Fairfax County Public Schools working with sleep specialists on start time plan

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In 2004, Phyllis Payne co-founded "SLEEP in Fairfax." She and another parent hoped to influence the school system to let older kids sleep in.

Payne feels so strongly about it she has even has the license plate "SLEEP FX."

She is pleased that the Fairfax County School Board has hired Children's National Medical Center's Division of Sleep Medicine to develop a "Blueprint for Change" on school start times.

Most Fairfax County high schools start at 7:20 a.m. The school board has already passed a resolution saying it wants to push that forward and achieve an 8 a.m. start time.

Dr. Judith Owens is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician who will help lead the project. She calls the scientific evidence supporting later start times "basically irrefutable."

At puberty, there is a profound shift in a person's natural sleep cycle. Going to sleep before 11 p.m. becomes difficult.

Owens says later start times boost academics, health and even safety.

"Ranging from decrease in self-reporting of depression and suicidal thoughts to improvements in academic performance and standardized tests to lower rates of absence and tardiness and even dropout to decreased car crashes. It's just very, very compelling," says Dr. Owens.



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