Science Proves We Were Right About School Starting Too Early


A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that hundreds of thousands of whiny teenagers across the country are right: school starts way, way too early in the morning.

The American Academy of Pediatrics found that middle and high school classes should start after 8:30 a.m. to allow the students to get at least 8.5 hours of sleep per night. But the average start time for 39,700 schools surveyed was 8:03 a.m.

“Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health, safety, and academic performance,” said Anne Wheaton, an epidemiologist and the study’s lead author. “Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need.”

USA Today reports:

Yet studies show that today’s teens are chronically sleep deprived, said Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the pediatric academy report.
Two-thirds of high school students today fail to get even eight hours of sleep on school nights, according to the CDC report. Adolescents who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for being overweight, depressed and using tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs, but less likely to get enough exercise, according to the CDC. Over time, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes, Owens said.

“The combination of delayed bedtimes and early school start times results in inadequate sleep for a large portion of the adolescent population,” wrote the study’s authors.

“Adolescents who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight; not engage in daily physical activity; suffer from depressive symptoms; engage in unhealthy risk behaviors such as drinking, smoking tobacco, and using illicit drugs; and perform poorly in school.”

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via Shutterstock.

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