(WTNH) – Sleep, shut-eye, whatever you want to call it, your child needs it. The question is, are they getting enough before school begins?

“The fact is, sleep-deprived teenagers are impaired in a way that people who are inebriated are impaired,” said Dr. Craig Canapari, a Yale Medical School sleep expert.

The list of health concerns is daunting, including obesity and high blood pressure. In the classroom, lower scores on standardized tests and higher rates of absenteeism.

Kids and their sleep habits have become an issue for area schools. In Guilford, the high school pushed back the start time 15 minutes to 7:45 a.m. in 2018. Parents in the town are in favor of kids getting as much sleep as possible.

“Schools do start pretty early right now and sometimes they come in and they are tired. If they can get a few more minutes of sleep, it’s going to benefit them in the long run,” said Tara Brinkman of Guilford.

In Cheshire, the assistant superintendent says the district explored the idea of changing start times a few years ago, but nothing came of it. She says it’s a complicated issue that affects the entire community.


Changes would have to be made to bus schedules and parents under pressure to get to a job on time could face challenges. Plus, after-school activities, like sports practices and games, would also need to be moved, which is another potential hassle for busy parents.

A mother in Cheshire also said that even if you send a child to bed, there’s no guarantee they really get enough rest.

“Screens play a huge part here. They’re not focusing, these kids are on screens late at night and they’re kind of dosing off. Those eyes really look heavy during school. It’s tough as a parent to keep them from getting them to bed, you can send them to bed, but then they have things in their room that can keep them up,” said Gina Daughenbaugh.

So, how much sleep is right for your child? According to a sleep expert, kids under 10 need ten hours of sleep. For middle and high schoolers, a little bit less, between 8 and a half and 9 and a half hours.

“When they get enough sleep, they’re more likely to make good decisions,” Dr. Canapari said.

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