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Pediatricians Recommend Later Start for Secondary Students

Waking up in time to catch the bus can sometimes be a challenge for adolescents, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is behind a solution to help them out. The AAP recently issued a policy statement calling for middle and high schools to start classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

The physicians say that a later start time is more appropriate for the biological sleep rhythms of secondary students.

Pediatrician Judith Owens, lead author of the policy statement, said, “The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores, and an overall better quality of life.”

Some schools around the country have instituted delayed start times, but many find that bus schedules, sports, and other extracurricular activities are obstacles to making a change. The AAP thinks it’s well worth the effort to find solutions to these challenges — citing studies that show adolescents are “chronically sleep-deprived and pathologically sleepy.”

“Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today,” Dr. Owens said. “By advocating for later school start times for middle and high school students, the AAP is both promoting the compelling scientific evidence that supports school start time delay as an important public health measure, and providing support and encouragement to those school districts around the country contemplating that change.”

Has your district considered a later start time? Do you think it would make a difference for the teenagers you know?

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