Pediatricians: Stop Starting School Day So Early

If you think your child is getting up to early for school, you're not alone; now a group of pediatricians are weighing in on the issue.

According to Health Day who first published the report, pediatricians believe 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.


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