The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that American kids and teens start school too early to get enough sleep. The health experts stress that this puts millions of middle school and high school students at risk of experiencing chronic sleep-deprivation.
The team informed that just one in five (1 in 5) middle school and high school students begin their day at 8:30 am or later. But the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all kids and teens should have this schedule if we are to protect our students’ health.
For the study, the researchers looked at gather from almost 40.000 public schools in order to figure out the general start time for the 2011 2012 school year. What they found is that on average, most schools begin their activities at 8:03 am.
The CDC report cited several studies and stressed that two thirds of the nation’s high school students don’t get enough sleep due to school start time. The National Sleep Foundation says that teens age 14 to 17 should get somewhere between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night.
It’s a somewhat surprising finding as health experts have been warning for a long time that when teens don’t get enough sleep, they are at risk of developing many different illnesses. Sleep-deprived teens are in danger of being overweight, suffering from depression, performing poorly in school, as well as adopting one or more risky behaviors.
Anne Wheaton, lead author and epidemiologist, gave a statement saying that “Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health, safety and academic performance”. She went on to add that the early school start times that most institutions prefer are keeping many teens “from getting the sleep they need”.
It’s a well known fact that once a child reaches puberty “biological rhythms commonly shift so that adolescents become sleepy later at night and need to sleep later in the morning”. But despite this, schools across the country seem to be unwilling to chance their start time.
However, the research team did note that some states are taking the issues more seriously than others. Louisiana turned out to be the most careless as it had the earliest school start time of all 50 states – 7:40 am on average. Neither Hawaii, Mississippi or Wyoming had any schools that started their day at 8:30 am or later, the recommended time.
In fact, most of the states had poor results as 42 of the states revealed that somewhere between 75 percent (75%) and 100 percent (100%) of their public schools begin their activities before 8:30 am.
But there are a few schools that are taking the recommendations to heart. For instance the school board decided to push school start time later for the upcoming school year in Montgomery Country, Maryland.
The district’s decision benefits more than 154.000 students, and their goal was to reach the recommended 8:30 am start time, however Patricia O’Neill, school board president, gave a statement to CBS News informing that they had to compromise due to several obstacles.
The main obstacle is that changing high school start time affects all of the others. If high school students were to begin their day at 8:30 am, that would mean that middle schools students would begin their day about half an hour later than them, and elementary schools students would begin their day about an hour and twenty minutes (1h 20 min) later. But parents would not be able to make it to work on time if they had to drop off their elementary schools kids at 10:00 am.
The study was published earlier this week, on Friday (Auguts 7, 2015), in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
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