While back-to-school season just started, many students may feel the effects of sleep loss throughout the entire school year. Your teenagers are not exaggerating about their middle and high schools starting too early, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly agrees with their latest findings.
The U.S. News & World Report tells us that 5 out of 6 middle and high schools begin before 8:30 am, averaging a start time of 8:03 am. Schools in Louisiana have the earliest start time with an average of 7:40 am, while Alaska schools barely start after the recommended time with a 8:33 am start-time average.
As teenagers need at least 8 hours of sleep to encourage brighter mornings and support more successful days of learning, it is concerning that 2 out of 3 high school students are sleeping less than the recommended amount.
When teenagers experience chronic sleep loss not only do serious health risks such as obesity, depression and diabetes increase, but memory, cognitive functioning, and creativity also suffer. Additionally, poor decision making and less self-control can lead to alcohol, tobacco or even drugs.
Researchers from the CDC and the Department Education reviewed data from approximately 40,000 public schools across the nation. While the school start times were looked at from the 2011-2012 Schools and Staffing Survey, it wasn’t until last year that the American Academy of Pediatrics officially recommended that schools begin no earlier than 8:30 am.
What time does your children’s school start? Encourage healthy sleep habits, including a relaxation period before sleep and a consistent bedtime. Putting away electronics and reducing artificial light exposure at least 90 minutes before bedtime will also help your household sleep better. Work together to make sleep every night a success, with better health, happiness and productivity to follow!