Healthcare workers and educators have stressed the importance of a good night’s sleep for many years, especially for students. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) however, suggests that school start times are typically too early for students to accomplish that.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools should have a start time of no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to allow teenagers to obtain their recommended eight to nine hours of sleep. However, through a series of surveys and questionnaires, the CDC found the average start time to be 8:03 a.m. among public middle and high schools in the United States, substantially earlier than the recommended time. Early start times were common across most states, with forty-two states reporting that 75-100% of their schools had start times before 8:30am.
These early start times pose a significant risk to students’ health as there have been many studies proving a correlation between lack of sleep and poor school performance, obesity, depression and more.
Even a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning are especially critical during puberty when shifts in the biological rhythm of adolescents result in them getting staying up later at night. Future research could investigate whether this data is significantly different between middle and high school students, as puberty typically occurs between those two ages.
While there are many barriers to later start times, such as transportation costs as well as the scheduling of after school activities, later start times would provide teenagers with the proper amount of sleep and likely improve their mental and physical health.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Most US middle and high schools start the day too early. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p0806-school-sleep.html