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Sleep Med. 2019 Apr;56:16-22. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2018.09.020. Epub 2018 Oct 12.

School start time changes in the COMPASS study: associations with youth sleep duration, physical activity, and screen time.

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Department of Health Sciences, Brock University, Niagara Region, 1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1, Canada; School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, 200 University Ave, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada. Electronic address:
School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, 200 University Ave, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada.
School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada.
Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.



To date, no longitudinal population-based studies of school start times have been conducted within Canada. School schedule changes provided an opportunity to examine start times in association with youth sleep, physical activity, and screen use over time.


This longitudinal study included grade 9-12 students attending 49 Ontario secondary schools that participated in at least two consecutive years of the COMPASS study (2012-2017). Fixed effects models tested whether differences in within-student change in self-reported sleep duration, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and screen time were associated with school start time changes, adjusting for student- (grade, sex, ethnicity, spending money) and school-level covariates (median income, urbanicity, geographical area).


Thirteen start time changes of 5-10 min were reported. Ten-minute advances at earlier clock times (8:30 AM-8:20 AM; 8:40 AM-8:30 AM) were associated with steeper sleep duration declines than schools with consistent start times but had no effect at later times (9:00 AM-8:50 AM). While sleep change did not differ with 5-min delays, 10-min delays (8:50 AM-9:00 AM) were associated with additional sleep (23.7 min). Apart from one school that shifted from 8:30 AM to 8:35 AM, in which screen time and physical activity decreased more steeply, no effect was found for screen time, and 5-min delays were associated with more physical activity (10.9 min) and advances with less activity (-8.0 min).


Results support start time delays as a valuable strategy to help ameliorate sleep debt among youth. Interference with physical activity or increased screen time appear unlikely with modest schedule changes. Potential adverse impacts on sleep require consideration with 10-min advances.


Adolescents; Physical activity; School start time; Screen time; Sleep duration; Youth

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