Study: Starting School Later May Reduce Instances of Intense Headaches in Teens

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. migraine / ˈmaɪ greɪn / (n) – a condition that usually involves a very painful headache and sensitivity to light and sound

    His migraines can be caused by bright lights or loud noises.

  2. body clock / ˈbɒd i klɒk / (n) – a natural system in the body that controls when a person feels sleepy, hungry, etc.

    I just returned from traveling abroad yesterday, so my body clock hasn’t adjusted to this time zone yet.

  3. pediatrics / ˌpi diˈæ trɪks / (n) – the branch of medicine that deals with the health of babies and children

    My older brother is studying pediatrics.

  4. recur / rɪˈkɜr / (v) – to happen or occur again

    His headaches kept recurring after the accident.

  5. observe / əbˈzɜrv / (v) – to follow a rule, law, etc.

    All visitors are reminded to observe the amusement park’s rules to ensure their safety.


Read the text below.

A new study by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), found that teenagers who start school at a later time experience fewer migraines.

According to research, teenagers’ body clocks naturally lean towards sleeping and waking up late. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises middle and high schools to start classes at 8:30 a.m. or later. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that only 18% of public schools in the United States actually follow this recommendation.

To test if school start times have an impact on teenagers’ migraines, the researchers surveyed more than 1,000 high school students who experience the condition. About half of the participants started school before 8:30 a.m. The remaining half started school later.

Results showed that students who started school earlier than 8:30 a.m. had an average of 7.7 days with migraines every month, while students with a later start time had an average of only 4.8 days with migraines a month. After taking into account factors like gender, use of migraine medication, and amount of homework, the researchers found that participants whose schools start later still experience fewer migraine attacks compared to those with early school schedules.

The researchers also found that students who start school later slept for an average of 7.9 hours every night, while students who start school early spent only an average of 6.9 hours sleeping.

To prevent migraines from recurring, the study’s lead author recommends getting enough sleep and observing consistent sleeping schedules. She said that if their study’s findings can be further confirmed in the future, middle and high schools should start later in the morning to reduce migraine attacks in teenagers and prevent them from missing school.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• After reading the results of the study, do you agree that all schools should start at 8:30 a.m. or later? Why or why not?
• Do you think schools should also end classes early? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think schools are responsible for how much sleep students get? Why or why not?
• How can schools ensure the health and wellness of their students? Discuss.