Navigation Links
Start School Later for Older Kids, Pediatricians Urge

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. high schools and middle schools should start classes later in the morning to allow kids some much-needed sleep, a leading group of pediatricians is urging.

Ideally, the American Academy of Pediatrics says, the first bell should ring at 8:30 a.m. or later -- which is the case at only 15 percent of U.S. high schools right now.

At the very least, classes should start no earlier than 8 a.m., said Dr. Judith Owens, the lead author of a new academy policy statement on school start times.

The recommendations, published in the academy's journal Pediatrics, are based on research showing that U.S. kids are sleep-deprived, which has consequences for their health, school performance and safety.

"This is an important issue," said Dr. Marcel Deray, a Florida sleep specialist who wasn't involved in the recommendations.

"I see a lot of teenagers who are tired and have problems in school because they have to get up so early," said Deray, who directs the Sleep Disorders Center at Miami Children's Hospital. "Some kids are getting up at 5 a.m., 6 a.m."

Many people think the answer is for kids to just get to bed earlier, Owens noted. But it's not that easy, she said, because biology has other plans.

Around puberty, the body's natural sleep-wake cycle shifts, and it's actually hard for teenagers to fall asleep earlier than 11 p.m.

"Teenagers' bodies release melatonin later than (adults') do," Deray explained, referring to a hormone the brain secretes in the evening to induce drowsiness.

"The other issue," Owens said, "is that teenagers' sleep needs are greater than many people think. They need nine to nine-and-a-half hours."

Yet, 43 percent of U.S. public high schools start classes before 8 a.m., according to the U.S. Department of Education. Middle schools, meanwhile, typically start classes at 8 a.m. -- with about 20 percent starting earlier than that.

"And that's the first bell," Owens said. "That's not even counting the commute time."

So in areas where kids take the school bus, the actual school day could begin before sunrise.

According to Owens, U.S. high schools started bumping up start times back in the 1950s and '60s, mainly to space out bus runs. Many school districts start high schools and middle schools first, then circle buses back to pick up elementary school kids.

One option would be to flip elementary and high school start times, but parents often oppose that -- since young children could be standing at bus stops in the early-morning dark, or have no one at home after school. Another option -- running more buses -- would be expensive.

Transportation is not the only obstacle, according to the National Sleep Foundation, which supports pushing back school start times. Some other arguments are that sports and extracurricular activities would end too late; teenagers would have no time for after-school jobs; and a later start could conflict with working parents' schedules.

Owens acknowledged the logistical challenges, and said parents and school staff sometimes oppose later start times. As an example, she said the Fairfax County, Va., school district has been debating the issue for years. Four options, including one with a 9:15 a.m. high school start, will be put to a vote this fall.

Some districts have found "creative solutions" to certain obstacles -- like having high school students switch from school buses to public ones, according to the academy.

Deray thinks tackling the practical challenges is worthwhile. He said studies have linked kids' sleep deprivation not only to poorer school performance, but also to higher rates of car accidents, obesity and depression.

In a recent study of eight U.S. high schools that delayed their start times, researchers found improvements in kids' grades, attendance and car crash rates.

Later school starts are just one way to help sleepy kids, however. Deray offered parents some tips.

"All electronic devices should be turned off an hour or two before bed," he said. "The blue light from them suppresses melatonin production."

He also advised avoiding physical and mental stimulation close to bedtime -- which means exercise and homework should be done earlier in the evening. And while teenagers love to sleep till noon on weekends, that will only further disturb their sleep/wake cycle. Deray said kids should get up by 9 a.m. on weekends and get plenty of morning sunlight.

He acknowledged, though, that all of that is easier said than done.

Owens agreed. "One of the issues is that kids are overscheduled," she said. "Don't give them so many things to do that they can't get to bed before midnight."

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more on school start times.

SOURCES: Judith Owens, M.D., MPH, director, sleep medicine, Children's National Health System, Washington, D.C.; Marcel Deray, M.D., director, Sleep Disorders Center, Miami Children's Hospital, Miami; September 2014 Pediatrics, online

Copyright©2014 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Bitcoin Starter Kit: Review Exposes Jarrod Dennis’s Guide to Capitalizing on Bitcoin
2. Bullying Starts Before School Years Begin, Study Finds
3. Racial Disparities in Breast-Feeding May Start With Hospitals, Study Suggests
4. CB-1 Weight Gainer Offers Four Tips to Help Men Bulk Up Before School Starts
5. Stanford-StartX Fund-Backed Nirmidas Biotech Raises $2 Million for Diagnostic Research Tools
6. North America Starter Cultures Market is Expected to Reach $283 Million in 2018 - New Report by MicroMarket Monitor
7. Profit By Search Discussed Google Starts Giving A Ranking Boost To Secure HTTPS/SSL Sites
8. Per Wickstrom’s Latest Blog Post Offers Advice on Whether People Should Start Their Own Company or Stay in the Workforce
9. UC Davis ramps up ventures with 14 startups in a year
10. TrekDesk II’s Kickstarter Campaign Gains Momentum
11. Postmenopausal breast cancer risk decreases rapidly after starting reg. physical activity
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Start School Later for Older Kids, Pediatricians Urge
(Date:10/13/2015)... Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... To incentivize would-be customers, eMarketing Concepts began a $1 promotion – effectively offering all ... a resounding success, and within weeks the company was flooded with phone calls from ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... , ... The Bill Howe Family of Companies is an award winning HVAC ... remediation services. Family-owned and operated for 35 years, they have maintained value, ethics and ... two years in a row from the Union Tribune Reader’s Poll, a Healthiest Company ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Heroes in Recovery (HIR) is proud to ... Network’s Moments of Change conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. Rob Waggener, CEO ... Dauphinais who exemplify the ideals of the Heroes in Recovery movement. , Noah ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... , ... October 12, 2015 , ... Kevin Costello, winner of the “Check-In and Win ... embarks today for his dream vacation to Hawaii. , “I didn’t believe I could win ... says. “This contest encouraged me to get to the gym and invest in my own ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... ... 12, 2015 , ... The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis ... education and clinical training in a health care discipline. , Many practitioners ... as: losing weight, managing pain, or stopping smoking, etc. Frequently, extravagant statements and ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... 2015  Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: AST), ... Therapy Catapult to advance development of large scale ... immunotherapy. Under the agreement, the Cell Therapy Catapult ... to support advanced clinical trials and eventual commercialization ... --> The Cell Therapy Catapult is a ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... WASHINGTON , Oct. 12, 2015  Former White House ... Press Secretary for the House Narcotics Committee, Robert Weiner ... "Rewriting Drug Policy." The two emphasize that this is now ... Clinton to Jeb Bush , Carly Fiorina ... Sordello cite the newest federal statistics, which they call "a ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... -- MiMedx Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDXG ), the leading ... processes to develop and market advanced products and therapies ... Ophthalmic, and the Dental sectors of healthcare, announced today ... 2015, its guidance for the fourth quarter of 2015, ... Senior Secured Credit Facility. --> ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: