Ever wonder why school starts so early? (Hint: $$$) (ThinkStock)
Ever wonder why school starts so early? (Hint: $$$)
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Pediatricians have a new prescription for schools: later start times for teens.

Delaying the start of the school day until at least 8:30 a.m. would help curb their lack of sleep, which has been linked with poor health, bad grades, car crashes and other problems. That's what the American Academy of Pediatrics says in a new policy.

The influential group says teens are especially at risk; for them, "chronic sleep loss has increasingly become the norm."

Studies have found that most U.S. students in middle school and high school don't get the recommended amount of sleep. On school nights, that's 8 to 9 hours. Most high school seniors get an average of less than seven hours.

More than 40 percent of the nation's public high schools start classes before 8 a.m., according to government data cited in the policy. And even when the buzzer rings at 8 a.m., school bus pickup times typically mean kids have to get up before dawn if they want that ride.

"The issue is really cost," said Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

School buses often make multiple runs each morning for older and younger students. Adding bus drivers and rerouting buses is one of the biggest financial obstacles to later start times, Amundson said. The roughly 80 school districts that have adopted later times tend to be smaller, she said.

After-school sports are another often-cited obstacle because a later dismissal delays practices and games. The shift may also cut into time for homework and after-school jobs, Amundson said.

The policy, aimed at middle schools and high schools, was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The policy cites studies showing that delaying start times can lead to more nighttime sleep and improve students' motivation in class and mood. Whether there are broader, long-term benefits requires more research, the policy says.

Many administrators support the idea but haven't resolved the challenges, said Amundson. She said the pediatricians' new policy likely will have some influence.

Parents seeking a change "will come now armed with this report," Amundson said.

Critical thinking challenge: How could schools overcome the obstacle of cost?

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COMMENTS (107)
  • nicoles-S
    8/27/2014 - 10:16 a.m.

    I don't usually want to want to wake up in the morning and want to sleep in class but I stay awake the entire time. Thank goodness.

    • ayeanab
      8/27/2014 - 04:41 p.m.

      who; the school
      what; its about the kids not getting sleep
      where; at the us
      when;27 august 2014
      why; bc they want to know
      how; they can give the kids more sleep time

  • EricM-Ewi
    8/27/2014 - 10:52 a.m.

    who: students
    what: too early start times
    where: united states
    when: now
    why: not enough money to get more bus divers or change routes
    how: they can reduce homework and get out earlyer

  • DianaB-Ewi
    8/27/2014 - 11:49 a.m.

    who: students
    what: the students are going to diffenrt time line.
    where: US middle school high school
    when: on August 27, 2014
    why: is this

  • jasminea-Ewi
    8/27/2014 - 02:56 p.m.

    who the students
    what because they can't get sleep
    where home/school
    why can't they because of homework and school hour is so long
    when they get home they have do homework
    how they don't sleep because they are buzzes with school/homework

  • luper-Ewi
    8/27/2014 - 04:39 p.m.

    who: students
    what: students don't get in of sleep
    where: school u.s
    when: august 27 2014
    why: cause students need to get in of sleep
    how: to start school late

  • lloydl-Ewi
    8/27/2014 - 04:43 p.m.

    who; Middle school and high school.
    what Why we have tov go to school so early.
    where U.S.
    when 27 august 2014.
    why Because we don't get enough rest.
    how Start school later.

  • julianc-Ewi
    8/27/2014 - 04:44 p.m.

    who kids
    what school
    where high school
    when August 27 , 2014
    why because they get up to early
    how to fix it tell the movement to change the time went school start

  • kevinsa-Ewi
    8/27/2014 - 04:46 p.m.

    who the teens
    what I don't know what!!
    where that's easy at the school
    when well august the 27 2014 duh
    why for kids can sleep
    how I don't know that stupid man well that what happens

    p.s.
    this is a bad it makes no sense yeah try something better XD HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

  • fernandob-Ewi
    8/27/2014 - 04:47 p.m.

    who the radical take about people in middle and high school
    what middle and highs school student don't get much sleep
    were in the united stats
    why they did not have much sleep witch make them tire and slow
    how they can add more time to get ready and get energize

  • Katie0414
    8/28/2014 - 11:58 a.m.

    I think that they could start some more fundraisers (like bake sales, I'm not talking about those cookie dough selling sprees where you get a rubber duck for selling $500 worth of cookie dough...), or they could raise money through marathons (have people be the sponsors for the school, and so for every kilometer you run, they will have to donate money that goes to the school).

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