here's currently no set standard for what time the school day starts. Middle schools and high schools across the U.S. start anywhere between 7 and 9 a.m., most at the earlier end of the spectrum. For many parents familiar with the shift from elementary school to an earlier start time in middle school, it feels counterintuitive that just as kids reach adolescence and begin to sleep later, they're required to get up earlier. Research supports the idea that later start times match up with teens' natural rhythms, and there are now many communities are rallying to push back the start times for middle and high schools.
Little kids come out of their rooms in the morning like...
When our kids are little they’re up with the sun. Their apparent allergy to sleep in lasts for years.
But for teenagers, it can take extreme measures to get out of bed in the morning.
As soon as they hit adolescence, kids’ natural rhythms change. Gone are they days when they bound out of bed at dawn. They stay up later and need to sleep later to compensate.
Teens need more sleep than we realize.
Research shows that teens still need 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep. With schools starting as early as 7 a.m., it’s just about impossible for them to get enough sleep. What teenager do you know who’s going to bed by 9 p.m.? Changing brain chemistry actually makes falling asleep early more difficult for them. And there’s homework, extracurricular activities, and socializing to squeeze in before bed…
Teens in the U.S. are chronically tired.
Because they stay up late and need to wake up early, our young people are not getting the sleep they need to function. Chronic lack of sleep isn’t good for anyone, especially the developing minds and bodies of growing kids.
Difficulty getting up in the morning is the least of the problems.
Creating an environment where our adolescents and teens are chronically overtired is dangerous for them. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that lack of sleep increases kids’ risk of depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic dysfunction, and the chances of being involved in a car accident.
Sleep is a big deal!