Docs urge delayed school start times for teens

Aug 25, 2014 by

That’s the message from the nation’s largest pediatrician group, which, in a new policy statement, says delaying the start of high school and middle school classes to 8:30 a.m. or later is “an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss” and the “epidemic” of delayed, insufficient, and erratic sleep patterns among the nation’s teens.

Multiple factors, “including biological changes in sleep associated with puberty, lifestyle choices, and academic demands,” negatively impact teens’ ability to get enough sleep, and pushing back school start times is key to helping them achieve optimal levels of sleep – 8½ to 9½ hours a night, says the American Academy of Pediatrics statement, released Monday and published online in Pediatrics.

Just 1 in 5 adolescents get nine hours of sleep on school nights, and 45% sleep less than eight hours, according to a 2006 poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

“As adolescents go up in grade, they’re less likely with each passing year to get anything resembling sufficient sleep,” says Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and lead author of the AAP statement. “By the time they’re high school seniors, the NSF data showed they were getting less than seven hours of sleep on average.”

Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents “can, without hyperbole, really be called a public health crisis,” Owens says.

via Docs urge delayed school start times for teens.

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