According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the answer is “yes.” In a report, titled: School Start Times For Adolescents and published this week by the academy, it is recommended that “middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later.” As a result, this will align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty, as noted in the study. The new policy statement has been published in the September 2014 issue of Pediatrics.
Pediatrician Judith Owens, MD, FAAP, and Lead Author of the policy statement, said “chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today.” She added: “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.Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”
But what’s the big deal?
My middle school and high school started earlier than the suggested time, however I was in bed and asleep by 8 p.m. the night prior. Today, kids are a lot more involved in extracurricular activities to help keep them off the streets. This can really tire them out, not to mention the eating habits that usually follow. While parents are running around with their kids, taking them from one destination to the next, they do not have the time to make a healthy meal at home, so it is on to something easy, quick, and cheap. We all know where this leads. This is just the icing on the cake. There are numerous reasons why kids are not getting enough sleep.
Of course, there are parents that prepare dinners for those hectic times, but it is not the same. Taking the time out to chew your food is critical to helping your digestion.
So, what is the AAP suggesting?
The AAP is advising pediatricians to educate parents and teens on the importance of healthy sleeping habits, as well as enforcing a media curfew, as noted in the release. “The AAP also advises health care professionals to educate parents, educators, athletic coaches and other stakeholders about the biological and environmental factors that contribute to insufficient sleep.”
What are your thoughts on this policy statement?