abc
QUICK LINKS:

Pediatricians' Rx for Schools: Later Start Times

Updated: 08/25/2014 1:37 PM
Created: 08/25/2014 1:25 PM WDIO.com
By: LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer

CHICAGO (AP) - 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, 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 - 8½ to 9½ hours on school nights; and that 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.

Evidence on potential dangers for teens who get too little sleep is "extremely compelling" and includes depression, suicidal thoughts, obesity, poor performance in school and on standardized tests and car accidents from drowsy driving, said Dr. Judith Owens, the policy's lead author and director of sleep medicine at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

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.

Amundson is a former Virginia legislator and teacher who also served on the school board of Virginia's Fairfax County, near Washington, D.C. Owens, the policy author, has been working with that board on a proposal to delay start times. A vote is due in October and she's optimistic about its chances.

"This is a mechanism through which schools can really have a dramatic, positive impact for their students," Owens said.

___ Online:

American Academy of Pediatrics: http://www.aap.org

___

AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner .

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Front Page

  • 1 Injured in Beltrami Co. House Explosion

    The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office posted a report of a house explosion on their Facebook page on Monday night. The Sheriff's office says they received multiple 911 calls regarding an explosion in southwestern Beltrami County at 5:35 p.m. Callers said they could also feel a force strong enough to dislodge pictures from walls and rattle windows. 

  • Pilot Safely Rescued after Ditching Cirrus Plane in Sea

    The pilot of a small plane ditched into the sea after running out of fuel 250 miles off Hawaii, but he was safely rescued after officials guided the stricken craft to the area of a cruise ship.

  • 'Option C' Architects Recommend Complete Rebuild of Duluth Public Library

    MSR's report recommends building a completely new facility of roughly the same size at the existing library site. The report estimates the project, known as 'Option C,' will cost $34.7 million. The report says that the overwhelming majority of public responses favored that option. 63 percent voiced support for Option C, while none of the other three options received more than 16 percent.

  • City Council Approves $300K Loan to Norshor Theatre Developer

    The Duluth City Council approved a $300,000 loan agreement Monday night for design work on the Norshor Theatre project in downtown however, that loan comes before any development agreement has been signed. 

  • Man Accused of Intentionally Running Over Woman in Superior Alley

    A Superior man faces a possible charge of attempted second-degree intentional homicide after allegedly running over a woman with a car in an alley early Saturday morning and fleeing the scene.

 
Advertisement