Pediatricians Say Later School Start Times Better for Mental Health and Academics

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Pediatricians are urging secondary and middle schools to delay start times until 8:30 am or later to give teenagers more time to sleep. They say it improves mental and physical health as well as academic performance. The policy discussion comes in a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which called sleep deprivation the "most common, important and potentially remediable public-health risk among adolescents."

According to pediatricians, when teens hit puberty, their brains begin secreting less melatonin causing their sleep drive to slow. This makes it difficult to fall asleep earlier. That couples with lifestyle and social changes which create loss of sleep as teens get involved in after-school extracurricular activities and the like.

According to the AAP, the average teenager needs about 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep per night. They call for an 8:00am wakeup time at the earliest.

 
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