AAP Wants Later School Start Time for Teens

sleepConcerned about the lack of sleep among teenagers in the U.S., the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has called for secondary schools to begin later, not starting until at least 8:30 a.m. Teens’ natural sleep patterns make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. Later start times in schools would align better with these patterns, according to the AAP, the nation’s largest organization of doctors who care for children.

In addition to falling asleep in class and needing caffeinated beverages to stay awake throughout the day, lack of sleep in teens leads to poor academic performance, increased likelihood of car accidents, and mental health issues such as depression, according to a policy statement published in the journal Pediatrics. The National Sleep Foundation found that by 6th grade, most students in the U.S. are already suffering from sleep deficits, with only 41 percent receiving the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours a night. By high school, the number drops to 13 percent.

Zintro expert Ian Hale, PhD. is a professional teacher, research academic and counselor from the UK with decades of experience working with children who have learning disabilities. Dr. Hale is also a former member of the UK Government Advisory on Autism Strategy. He shares his thoughts about the importance of sleep. “Lois E. Krahn, M.D. of the world famous Mayo Clinic wrote, ‘For good health, make sleep a priority.’ She is right got Austists, NTs, the young and the old,” says Dr. Hale. “Lack of sleep contributes to lowered immunity, impaired performance at work or school, relationship breakdowns, and brain cell death—which can lead to full-blown Autism, psychosis, premature aging and not least Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of Dementia –as described in The New Scientist journal, September 24th, 2009.

“It is notable that 100 years ago the average adult in the Western world slept nine hours per night, and now that figure is down to 6 1/2 hours. At the same time we have seen the escalation of Dementia and violence in our societies among increasingly younger age groups. Any link is unproven, but it is a question which needs addressing. This is particularly important with regards to children who need at least 12 hours sleep per 24 hours in order to grow healthy bodies and optimal brains.”

Cynthia Tjelle has been a maternal/child nurse and educator, and she agrees. “Teenagers would benefit enormously from extra sleep and would likely perform better in school. The issue that confounds this surrounds how it affects teachers and their days, sports and practice times, bus schedules, etc. Trying this in several communities would be ideal. I say this as an RN and parent.”

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