Is your teen getting enough sleep on school nights? Probably not, and the reason may be because many schools start too early. According to a study recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most teens don’t get the amount of sleep they need because most schools start before 8:30AM.
Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30AM so that students can get enough sleep (around 9 hours). Teenagers generally stay up later than most adults because of their natural sleep cycle.
The study by the CDC found that over 80% of high schools and middle schools start at an average time of 8:03. Apparently, the start times have been disputed by school systems for years, and parents have expressed their recommendation that school should start later because their teenagers find it difficult to wake up too early and be expected to learn.
The debate over school start times has been argued for many years. Some experts say that the issue hasn’t negatively affected past generations. But the effects of sleep deprivation for teens are a serious health issue. Teenagers who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight and be physically inactive. They also tend to suffer from depression, and their school performance suffers. They miss out on all-important REM sleep. Sleep deprivation over time can cause type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Starting middle and high school later would have its disadvantages, school officials say. They believe that after-school sporting events and practices would become difficult to schedule, and that teenagers would have difficulty getting jobs for after school. There are also costs to consider: buses, traffic, etc.
Sleep is important for all children’s and teen’s health, and parents should set times for bed and make strict rules regarding the use of electronic devices before bedtime. Parents should consider sleep to be just as important as good nutrition and physical activity.
Dr. Riba suggests getting your teens accustomed to getting up early now in these last few weeks before school starts. Don’t wait until the day before the first day of school to get them up earlier! Start at least 2 weeks before the school year begins. Get your teenager up and ready for their day by going for a walk, shooting some hoops, or other activity. Take advantage of these few weeks before school and get them used to early school start times now!