Even Doctors Think School Should Start Later

From the September 2014 issue of Choices

On Monday, news broke that the country's largest pediatrician group, the American Academy of Pediatrics, is advocating for later start times at schools. Yup, doctors are saying what we've known for awhile: Teens' bodies function better with more sleep. And because of the way teens' bodies function biologically, they stay awake later. According to USA Today, the AAP says starting school for middle and high school students after 8:30 a.m. is "an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss."

Here's an excerpt from AAP's statement:

Studies show that adolescents who don’t get enough sleep often suffer physical and mental health problems, an increased risk of automobile accidents and a decline in academic performance. But getting enough sleep each night can be hard for teens whose natural sleep cycles make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. — and who face a first-period class at 7:30 a.m. or earlier the next day.

The statement deems sleeplessness one of the "most common — and easily fixable — public health issues in the U.S. today." That's a message we can definitely get behind. Just consider all the downsides of lack of sleep, including a risk of obesity or depression.

Luckily like the AAP said, this sleep problem can be easily fixable. Take Jilly Dos Santos for example. The 17-year-old pushed for later school start times and won. When explaining what sparked her efforts, she told us, "I realized that there wasn’t something wrong with me and my time management skills. The way I was feeling was physical and biological.”

To read Jilly's full story from Choices magazine's September issue, click on the image below. It includes ways you can try getting your school to start later too:

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To learn more about Choices magazine, the health and life skills resource for teens, click here!