As teenagers across the country head back to school, many are starting what will be yet another year of little sleep. But consider this: A consistent lack of shuteye can be much more serious than feeling fatigued in biology.
Studies show sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for things like car accidents and can lead to poor academic performance and ill health. Citing this topic as an "important public health issue," the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a recommendation that middle schools and high schools start classes at or after 8:30 a.m. to allow students the chance to get more sleep regularly.
"Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today," said pediatrician Judith Owens, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, in an AAP press release.
The AAP states that the optimal amount of sleep time for teens is between 8 1/2 and 9 1/2 hours per night. But as students get older and responsibilities pile up, a mix of homework, extracurricular activities, and after-school jobs leads to even later nights, which can make it very difficult to meet the sleep goal.
The possibility of making this policy change in schools across the nation is also tough. School districts struggle with financial and logistical challenges that include providing school busing services for elementary, middle, and high schools. It can be difficult for enough buses to shuttle kids to all of the schools in one time frame, which can also strain school district budgets. Ultimately, "the issue is really cost," Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education, told the AP.
Does your child's lack of sleep affect her performance at school? Take a look at these tips to boost her school success.
Helping Your Child Succeed At School
Photo of girl sleeping courtesy of Shutterstock.