Auburn University faculty advocate for delay in school start times

Published: August 22, 2018
Updated: October 23, 2018
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Auburn University has two faculty members with a firm stance on starting school later in the day.

Joe Buckhalt, professor in counseling psychology, wants to see schools start later for the physical, emotional and intellectual wellbeing of adolescents. And so does his wife, Professor Mona El-Sheikh, a nationally known expert on child sleep.

Since 2012, Buckhalt has let his opinion be known through a blog on Psychology Today.

Research conducted by Buckhalt and El-Sheikh in Auburn’s Child Sleep, Health and Development Lab indicated the factors most important to healthful sleep are duration, quality and regularity.

They found:
  • Sleep deprivation causes cognitive and emotional challenges and young people are sleep deprived.

  • Earlier start times are related to lower academic achievement in high school students.

  • Lower test scores were associated with earlier start times for elementary students.

  • Heavy cell phone use during the day and night is associated with poor sleep in young people, especially in those young people lacking strong parental supervision, which is closely associated with poverty.

To arrange an interview with Buckhalt and/or El-Sheikh, please contact Preston Sparks, Auburn University director of communications, at 334-844-9999 or
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