All around the state, over the next week teenagers are setting their alarm clocks for the first time in two months to make sure that they get to school on time. If the American Academy of Pediatrics had their way, these middle school and high school students would be setting their alarm clocks for a little later in the morning.
In a report released on August 25, 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement concerning school start times for adolescents. Calling insufficient sleep “one of the most common, important and remediable health risks in children, particularly in the adolescent population,” the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that it “lends its strong support to school districts contemplating delaying school start times.”
Noting that the optimal amount of sleep for most teenagers is 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night, and citing a recent National Sleep Foundation poll that reported that 87% of high school students get less than that amount of sleep per night, the Academy report points to studies that show an association between decreased sleep and health problems, lower academic achievement and mood disorders. The report also cites research that delaying start times for schools is accompanied by positive outcomes. As stated in the report, “studies support the presence of significant improvements in benchmarks of health and academic success in a variety of settings in association with later school start times.”
In addition to supporting later start times for middle and high schools, the Academy’s report contains a number of recommendations, including a call for physicians and other health professionals to educate parents, students and school officials on the benefit of later start times. High school students struggling to get out of bed this week might want to make sure that their principal gets a copy of this American Academy of Pediatrics report.