Questions for Early start times make teen ‘zombies’

girl sleeping on books



Before reading

1.    Have you ever fallen asleep in class or in another place where you should have stayed awake? Why were you so sleepy?

2.    How do school, homework, sports, going out with friends and other activities contribute to how much sleep you get each night? Do you think you get enough sleep?

During reading

1.    Janet Croft says that many students start their day at school as “walking zombies.” What does she mean by that?

2.    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, what is the consequence of starting the day before 8:30 a.m. at middle and high schools?

3.    How many hours of sleep does a middle or high schooler need?

4.    Kyla Wahlstrom says that biology is to blame for many sleeping teens. Give two reasons why she said that.

5.    What is melatonin and what does it do in the body?

6.    What is sleep pressure?

7.    Why would the car accident rate among students be affected by school start time?

8.    Name three potential consequences of not getting enough sleep.

9.    People who don’t get enough sleep during the week often try to “catch up” by sleeping late on the weekend. Why does that strategy not work?

After reading


1.    Come up with three ways your local community might benefit from a later start to the day for students in middle schools and high schools.

2.    Even with the evidence that early start times for schools can be harmful for students, many schools have not changed when they begin the day. Come up with three reasons why school administrators, teachers or parents might be reluctant to have the school day start later for students. Then think of at least one argument you might use to persuade a school change its early-start policy.


Research a typical school day for students your age in another country. From what you have read, how likely are those students to be getting enough sleep?