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Walla Walla Public Schools Conducting Sleep Study to Determine if High School Students Should Start Later

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WALLA WALLA, WA- Walla Walla Public Schools Administration is conducting a sleep study to determine if their high school students should start later based on sleep pattern research. 

On Monday we sat down with Business Services Executive Director Ted Cohan and he told us if they did the sleep study, "the first period of the day would be moved to the end of the day, and so the earliest you could start is 8:30 actually 9:30 and the latest end of the day would be at four o'clock". 

The sleep study wouldn't affect this school year, start times would change next fall. Cohan told us there are a few steps to complete first, starting with the community meetings, "see what the community feels about it in those two meetings and follow up with a  survey that will go out to the entire community, students and staff will fill it out and get an idea of what the community feels about it". 

The first community meeting is Tuesday, November 10 at 6:30. Dr. Richard Simon, who is a doctor with the Sleep Center at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, will give a detailed presentation regarding the studies previously done linking the benefits of sleeping in for teenagers. He told us that when you're tired and falling asleep in class it is affecting your learning, "as you're drifting in and out of sleep memory consolidation doesn't occur and so you don't know that you're not learning and you have no concept you're not learning". 

Dr. Simon has researched sleep studies for over 20 years and said, "suicidal thoughts among teenagers less in teenagers who go to school later because they actually can sleep more, visits to the councilors office decline,  the other thing that happens is you get more alert teenagers and you get happier teachers". 

Tuesday's meeting will be at the Garrison Middle School Library and the second meeting will be Thursday, November 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Walla Walla Hugh School Commons.