Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Let the Kids Sleep in! A Notebook of Short but Worthy Items

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Let the Kids Sleep in! A Notebook of Short but Worthy Items

Article excerpt

Five out of every six U.S. middle and high schools start school before 8:30 a.m., according to the Centers for Disease Control, despite a 2014 recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that secondary schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to better sync with students' changing sleep cycles.

Schools with start times of 8:30 a.m. or later allow adolescent students the opportunity to get the recommended amount of sleep on school nights: 8.5 to 9.5 hours. Insufficient sleep is common among high school students and is associated with such health risks as being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs--as well as poor academic performance. The proportion of high school students who fail to get sufficient sleep (2 out of 3) has remained steady since 2007, according to the CDC's 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report.

Key findings in the CDC report:

* 42 states reported that 75% to 100% of the public schools in their respective states started before 8:30 a.m.

* The average start time was 8:03 a.m.

* The percentage of schools with start times of 8:30 a.m. or later varied greatly by state. No schools in Hawaii, Mississippi, and Wyoming started at 8:30 a.m. or later; more than 75% of schools in Alaska and North Dakota started at 8:30 a.m. or later.

* Louisiana had the earliest average school start time (7:40 a.m.), while Alaska had the latest (8:33 a.m.).

The American Academy of Pediatrics in its policy statement said it "strongly supports the efforts of school districts to optimize sleep in students and urges high schools and middle schools to aim for start times that allow students the opportunity to achieve optimal levels of sleep (8. …

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