Sleep is both healthy and precious to everyone, and a recent study has confirmed that early school hours are unhealthy for US teens, who are very likely to be sleep deprived. The problem seems easy to fix, with stricter curfews or earlier bedtime hours, but it’s biologically difficult for teenagers to meet their recommended resting needs due to school hours.
On average, a teen’s natural rhythm does not allow them to fall asleep before 11 P.M., so it’s become a challenge for them to get the required 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per day. It may develop into poor academic performance, which might in turn lead to depression, alcohol use or drug abuse.
The pressure is high on teenagers already, with academics playing a part in front of parental pressure. The stress has also been linked to overeating and has been deemed as one of the causes of obesity. School programs starting a bit later might be a seemingly simple enough solution to prevent that.
The proper time of starting school to avoid sleep-deprived students has been proposed to be 8:30 A.M. since 2014. However, five out of six middle schools or high schools out of the 40,000 reviewed, do not meet the recommended hour due to potential scheduling conflicts and required expenses for the change.
That adds up to only 17.7% of United States school starting late enough for teenagers to get their much needed rest. The issue has been labeled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a “substantial public health concern”, that causes today’s teenagers to perform poorly in academics and affecting their every day lives.
The average nationwide start-time is of 8:03 A.M., which is still too early for them to perform at their highest capability and, thus, unlock their full potential. While the matter can be alleviated by parents with stricter ground rules, schools are tasked with the responsibility of also contributing by changing schedules.
Alaska is currently in lead with the average latest star-time of 8:33 A.M., which is precisely the recommended hour by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), while Louisiana had the highest percentage of schools starting before 7:30 A.M. .
Two thirds of teenagers feel themselves sleep deprived, and insufficient sleep is associated to several health risks, according to the CDC. It could be a matter of natural rhythm and development of technology and social media, but the study underlines that schools have the responsibility of adapting to the changes as well.
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