Personal Liberty Digest™ will be upgraded this weekend to reflect a dynamic new look and mobile-friendly viewing to enhance your experience! Plus, we'll be providing even more of the compelling content you've come to expect, delivered in a whole new way!

  Comments Subscribe to Personal Liberty News Feed Subscribe to Personal Liberty
 

Do Sleepy Teens Need Later School Start Times? Pediatricians Say Yes

August 25, 2014 by  

Do Sleepy Teens Need Later School Start Times? Pediatricians Say Yes

(MCT) — If you thought trying to get a groggy teenager out of bed in time for school each morning was your own private struggle, you thought wrong.

The American Academy of Pediatrics declared the chronic sleepiness of our nation’s teenagers a public health issue in a policy statement Monday. And to help fix the problem, the organization called for middle and high schools to push back their start times 30 minutes to an hour to allow students to get more rest.

“A substantial body of research has now demonstrated that delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss,” the organization said. “The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports the efforts of school districts to optimize sleep in students.”

Sleep deprivation in teenagers is widespread. Eighty-seven percent of high school students in the U.S. are getting less than the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep, and high school seniors get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, on average, the AAP says.

In addition, 28 percent of high school students report falling asleep at school at least once a week, while 1 in 5 say they fall asleep doing homework with similar frequency.

The exhaustion has serious consequences. The AAP reports that the average teenager in the U.S. regularly experiences levels of sleepiness similar to people with sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Adolescents are also at higher risk for car accidents resulting from drowsy driving. And, as many of us know from personal experience, lack of sleep affects mood, attention, memory and behavior control.

So can’t they just go to bed earlier? The answer is: not really. Studies suggest that at the onset of adolescence, there is a delay in when the body starts to secrete melatonin, a hormone that tells the body it’s time to go to sleep. Researchers have also found that it takes the adolescent brain longer to wind down and fall asleep after being awake for 14.5 to 18.5 hours than it does for people in other stages of life.

“This research indicates that the average teenager in today’s society has difficulty falling asleep before 11 p.m. and is best suited to wake up at 8 a.m. or later,” the AAP statement says.

As of the 2011-12 school year, 43 percent of U.S. public high schools had a start time before 8 a.m.

“When high school classes begin early in the morning, we ask teens to shine when their biological clock tells them to sleep,” Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, said in a statement.

Studies have shown that when school starts later, it can help students get an additional hour of sleep per night, improve attendance rates, lower dropout rates, and even reduce the number of car crashes among adolescent drivers. Whether a later start time improves academic performance is still up in the air.

The AAP acknowledges that later start times can be hard for schools to implement logistically, but they argue that it is worth the effort.

“Both the urgency and the magnitude of the problem of sleep loss in adolescents and the availability of an intervention that has the potential to have broad and immediate effects are highly compelling,” they said.

–Deborah Netburn
Los Angeles Times

___

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com.

Distributed by MCT Information Services.

McClatchy-Tribune

Operated jointly by the McClatchy Company and Tribune Company, MCT serves more than 1,200 media clients, online information services and information resellers across the globe. With 600-plus contributors worldwide, MCT has an exceptional variety of sources, providing detailed analyses, opinions and perspectives.

Facebook Conversations

Join the Discussion:
View Comments to “Do Sleepy Teens Need Later School Start Times? Pediatricians Say Yes”

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.

Is there news related to personal liberty happening in your area? Contact us at newstips@personalliberty.com

Bottom
close[X]

Sign Up For Personal Liberty Digest™!

PL Badge

Welcome to PersonalLiberty.com,
America's #1 Source for Libertarian News!

To join our group of freedom-loving individuals and to get alerts as well as late-breaking conservative news from Personal Liberty Digest™...

Privacy PolicyYou can opt out at any time. We protect your information like a mother hen. We will not sell or rent your email address to anyone for any reason.