School start times promote ADHD?

More sleep leads to less impulsive behavior and more stress resistance in children! Honestly, is that a surprise?

Study shows correlations

According to a recent study [1] by the University of Georgia’s Youth Development Institute, healthy sleep could be the game changer to help children cope better with stressful environments and reduce impulsive behavior.

Stressful environments have been shown to cause adolescents to seek immediate rewards rather than delayed rewards, but there are also adolescents in stressful environments who are not impulsive. We investigated what explains this relationship and what differentiates some people from others. One mechanism we found is sleep,” says study author Linhao Zhang.

The researchers analyzed data from 11,858 children aged 9 to 10 years collected as part of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study [2], a comprehensive study of brain development. The researchers continuously monitored sleep problems and impulsive behavior at several intervals over a period of two years. This showed that sleep deprivation and the time it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency) are significantly associated with later impulsive behavior.

Children who got less than the recommended nine hours of sleep or showed more than 30 minutes of sleep latency were more likely to exhibit impulsive behavior similar to the symptoms of ADHD.

The occurrence of neurological hyperconnectivity was particularly interesting. The brain remains highly active even when the child is not occupied with a specific task.

This study investigated the default mode network, a brain network related to goal-directed behavior,” says Zheng. “If this network was hyperactive at rest, it could strengthen the link between stressful environments, sleep and impulsivity.”

According to Zheng, the core problem lies in the artificial daily rhythm, which runs counter to the children’s biological internal clock. In this case, it is mainly the school start times that contribute to this.

This study shows why it is important to promote longer sleep duration by shifting school start times…!”

What chronobiologists have been calling for for a long time has now been confirmed. The current school start times can lead to a high incidence of ADHD or similar behavior.

ADHD? But we used to be ... !

One of the main arguments often used against later school hours is that people used to go to school early without it having any detrimental effects.

What people forget: 40 years ago, the mental strain on children was nowhere near what it is today. The range of stimuli that children are bombarded with on a daily basis today is many times greater than it was back then. The only media available at the time were television and books. And it was not uncommon for our parents to severely limit our television consumption.

Since then, the possibilities of media use have exploded, especially due to digitalization, and quite a few parents use these digital media as a “sedative”. At the same time, however, the possibility of reducing stress, e.g. through exercise, has been considerably reduced since then.

More stimuli and their consequences require a higher degree of recovery and regenerationso primarily sleep. However, there is no more sleep time available than 40 years ago. Falling asleep earlier as a possible compensation is not biologically possible for most adolescents, so a sleep deficit develops, which can then lead to the symptoms mentioned above. The second half of sleep in particular, i.e. the half in which the psyche is regenerated, is abruptly interrupted by the alarm clock.

Efforts to bring forward school start times even further for economic reasons are completely counterproductive and even extremely dangerous.


Politicians must finally tackle the issue of school start times. Unfortunately, this is even opposed by parents who insist on the status quo due to their professional situation.

If you take the study situation, and not least the current study, the current school start times are even a threat to children’s well-being. The chronotype of children and young people is still ignored by those responsible today. The study shows that the consequences are visible early on.

In this context, I would like to draw your attention once again to my petition, which addresses precisely this issue. School start times make people ill … and this puts a lifelong strain on the lives of the children concerned, and thus also on society.

To the petition on Open Petition

Whether our children have a lobby is up to each and every one of us. Please sign the petition. THANK YOU!