Later Start School Time: Docs Urge Schools To Stop Beginning Classes So Early

Will a later school start time finally happen? Pediatricians are urging schools to stop beginning classes so early. News Ledge reports that science supports the notion that adolescents need extra sleep. Sleep patterns reveal that they require more sleep and our nation’s teenagers are extremely sleep-deprived. With this data, the Academy of Pediatrics tells schools they need to start school hours later.

The pediatrics organization explains that lack of sleep can result in health consequences for kids. Obesity and depression has also been linked with sleep deprivation.

Grades have shown to improve and attendance is up when school isn’t beginning so early. Even crash rates were down, the report reveals.

CBS News reports that this schedule revision would fit high school and middle school students. They’re at the age where hormones are in overdrive and their melatonin works later than it does in adults.

So, what time do experts recommend as a later school start? No earlier than 8 am, according to Dr. Judith Owens, the lead author of a new academy policy statement on school start times. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 43 percent of schools begin earlier than 8 am.

Florida sleep specialist, Dr. Marcel Deray at Sleep Disorders Center at Miami Children’s Hospital, says this “is an important issue” and explains:

“I see a lot of teenagers who are tired and have problems in school because they have to get up so early. Some kids are getting up at 5 am, 6 am.”

“The other issue,” Dr. Owens says, “is that teenagers’ sleep needs are greater than many people think. They need nine to nine-and-a-half hours.”

What makes this all the more difficult, is it’s not as easy as teens going to bed earlier to wake up early. Sleep patterns shift and it’s actually harder for teens to fall asleep earlier than 11 pm.

A later start to class has all kinds of obstacles, unfortunately. Many parents are opposed to the idea because they don’t want kids at the bus stop for long lengths of time and no one would be home in the mornings because parents have to be at work. Another option would be to run more bus routes, but that’s a budget issue.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, a school start time of 9:15 am for high school will be on the voting ballot this fall.

One other issue facing so many school kids is being “over-scheduled,” Dr. Owens maintains.

“One of the issues is that kids are over-scheduled. Don’t give them so many things to do that they can’t get to bed before midnight.”

Would a later school start time solve a lot of these issues for high school and middle school students?

[Image via NSEV Healing & Acupuncture]