While it has been the norm for US students in K-12 to start school around 7:30 am or earlier, communities are now starting to question if early-start policies are the best option for teenagers.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, by nature, teenagers need more sleep as “biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence - meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm.” Teenagers are in such a critical developmental stage that it is essential for them to get adequate sleep, otherwise, they are prone to negative academic performance, health issues, and an increased risk of accidents.
When teenagers don’t get approximately 8 to 10 hours of sleep, it begins to affect their mood causing depression, short-temperedness, anxiety, and a negative state of mind. Sleep deprivation also puts them at higher risk for obesity and affects their ability to understand and retain information thereby making school even more difficult.
Getting adequate sleep is essential for good mental health for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 am or later” so that students get sufficient sleep that they need.
Shifting the morning start at schools to a later time can improve both a teenager’s mental and physical health, help them stay awake during class, and avoid the confrontation that comes with waking them up early in the morning!