The experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics say, middle and high schools shouldn’t start any earlier than 8:30am!
But, only 17% of public schools start that late and that’s not great for kids’ ability to learn and excel. Paul Kelley is a researcher who studies adolescent sleep and its relationship to school schedules. And he says teens have a different body clock than adults. The hormonal changes they’re experiencing delay the release of the sleep-inducing melatonin… and they tend to fall asleep at night two to three hours later than people at other stages in life. So when teens have to get up before 7am, or earlier, it causes chronic sleep loss. And that decreases memory, attention span, and grades.
It also makes teens more likely to get involved in risky behavior – because they have less self-control, are more irrational, and much more emotional.
But in many districts, the time a school starts is down to the bus schedule. Because if there aren’t enough buses for middle schoolers and high schoolers – the buses will start running earlier so they can make multiple trips. And when the buses run earlier, schools start earlier.
So teens, what can you do if you need to get up at 7am or earlier to make it to school on time? Try to gradually move your bedtime earlier, so you can get the 9 hours of sleep you need as a teen. And tell your parents to come grab your smartphone from you by 10pm. I know it’s a drag, but experts say the light from screens interferes with your production of sleep-inducing melatonin.