To examine the impact of changing school start times on sleep in parents of students in elementary, middle, and high school.
Annual surveys were completed by parents of K-12 students (n = 8190-10,592 per year) before (pre-change) and for 2 years (post-change, follow-up) after implementation of new school start times (elementary school [ES]: 60 minutes earlier, middle school [MS]: 40-60 minutes later, high school [HS]: 70 minutes later), providing parent self-reported weekday bedtime and wake time, sleep quality, and feeling tired.
Significant level-by-year interactions were found for parent bedtime, wake time, and sleep duration (all p < .0001). Post hoc analyses show ES parents reporting earlier bedtimes and wake times at post-change, with no change in sleep duration, while MS and HS parents reported later post-change wake times. Post-change, more MS and HS parents reported sufficient sleep duration (p < .0001) and good sleep quality (p < .0001), with fewer HS parents reporting feeling tired (p < .0001).
This is the first study to consider the impact of a policy change aimed at improving child sleep on parent sleep. Healthy school start times has a significantly positive downstream effect on secondary school parents’ sleep and daytime functioning, with minimal impact reported by parents of elementary school students.