In a major case of “I told you so,” the American Medical Association issued a new policy this week recommending that high schools start later in order to help teens get more sleep. Every current and former teen out there should feel vindicated. It’s really not your fault that you can’t stay awake in first period!
The AMA says middle and high schools should at 8:30 a.m. or later because research has shown that puberty brings on a biological shift in circadian rhythm that contributes to later bedtimes and wake-up times in adolescents.
“Sleep deprivation is a growing public health issue affecting our nation’s adolescents, putting them at risk for mental, physical and emotional distress and disorders,” AMA Board Member William E. Kobler, M.D. says in the AMA’s release. “Scientific evidence strongly suggests that allowing adolescents more time for sleep at the appropriate hours results in improvements in health, academic performance, behavior, and general well-being.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends teens get between 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep per night, but the AMA reports that only 32 percent of American teenagers reported getting at least eight hours of sleep on an average school night.
“While implementing a delayed school start time can be an emotional and potentially stressful issue for school districts, families, and members of the community, the health benefits for adolescents far outweigh any potential negative consequences,” Dr. Kobler said.