Letting Teens Sleep In Just 30 Minutes More Could Save the Country $9 Billion a Year

Who knew just a few extra minutes of sleep could pile up to all that money?

teensAlena Ozerova

“Just five more minutes” is the audible snooze button prompt for kids still being gingerly woken up by their parents across the nation. The desire to just have a little bit more time to sleep each morning isn’t something unique to those under the age of 18, but maybe it should be. According to The Washington Post, allowing adolescents to sleep in may just be one of the smartest economic moves possible.

A new study from the Rand Corporation took a look at the impact of delaying the first bell in public schools across the nation. In Rand’s plan, the earliest start time for classes would be 8:30 a.m. Currently, just 18 percent of schools across the U.S. start classes at 8:30 a.m. or later; the national average sits at 8:03 a.m., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rand’s researchers tallied the economic benefits to be gained from the increased academic performance of well-rested students. Then they calculated how much the country could save from having alert teen drivers on the road, compared to the expense we incur from accidents triggered by drowsy young drivers. Finally, Rand figured out the expected cost of shifting bus schedules later—about $150 a student, as well as an estimated $110,000 for each school to install the necessary infrastructure to operate later in the day. 

(Length of sleep is important, but so is the quality of sleep—be sure to follow these 13 tips to get the most out of your time in slumber land.)

The economic boon to the country would be staggering: Rand’s researchers found that America could save about $8.6 billion after just two years on the later schedule, easily covering the administrative costs of the shift. (Part of the reason for the savings is that kids brains are actually wired for a later daily start time than adults.) After 10 years, the savings would add $83 billion to the country’s bottom line. Once all the changes are in place, the US economy could be averaging an annual windfall of $9.3 billion.

The path forward is plain, according to lead author Marco Hafner, an economist with Rand. “A small change [in school start time] could result in big economic benefits over a short period of time for the U.S.,” he said in a press release. “In fact, the level of benefit and period of time it would take to recoup the costs from the policy change is unprecedented in economic terms.” In other words, it’s time to take the matter up with your local school board. After all, getting your bleary-eyed kid back on the school sleeping schedule is hard as it is; you might as well have the school system on your side.

[Source: The Washington Post]

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