A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that most U.S. teenagers start school too early, which prevents them from getting the sleep they need to be able to properly concentrate and stay healthy.
“Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health, safety, and academic performance,” lead author Anne Wheaton said. “Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need.”
Adolescents are biologically programmed to stay asleep longer than adults, according to research from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They may also suffer from sleep problems, further preventing them from getting the rest they need to do well. For example, obstructive sleep apnea can cause sufferers to stop breathing while they sleep 60 times in one hour, thereby preventing them from getting a restful night’s sleep.
According to data from the CDC, 83% of middle and high schools in the U.S. start at 8:30 am or later, as recommended; of course, that’s still too early for the majority of students.
The debate over whether or not to start school later has been going on for years. Many parents have asked the schools to delay their first-period classes, arguing that their children have trouble getting up early enough to get to school, let alone be able to learn properly.
“It makes absolutely no sense,” said physician M. Safwan Badr, a former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “You’re asking kids to learn math at a time their brains are not even awake.”
Depriving teens of the sleep they need could devastate their academic performance, reported the CDC. Researchers also warned that the effects of getting insufficient sleep could also cause them to suffer outside of school, too.
According to the CDC study, “Insufficient sleep is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks such as being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and using drugs.”