November 28, 2014

Elyria
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Pediatricians says schools should have later start times

Students Julian Lopez, second left, Ben Montalbano, second right and James Agostino, right, listen during their Advanced Placement Physics class at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington. A new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends delaying classes for all teens until at least 8:30 a.m. to curb their widespread lack of sleep. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Students Julian Lopez, second left, Ben Montalbano, second right and James Agostino, right, listen during their Advanced Placement Physics class at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington. A new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends delaying classes for all teens until at least 8:30 a.m. to curb their widespread lack of sleep. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — Pediatricians have a new prescription for schools: later start times for teens.

Delaying the start of the school day until at least 8:30 a.m. would help curb their lack of sleep, which has been linked with poor health, bad grades, car crashes and other problems, the American Academy of Pediatrics says in a new policy.

The influential group says teens are especially at risk; for them, “chronic sleep loss has increasingly become the norm.”

Studies have found that most U.S. students in middle school and high school don’t get the recommended amount of sleep — 8½ to 9½ hours on school nights; and that most high school seniors get an average of less than seven hours.

More than 40 percent of the nation’s public high schools start classes before 8 a.m., according to government data cited in the policy. And even when the buzzer rings at 8 a.m., school bus pickup times typically mean kids have to get up before dawn if they want that ride.

“The issue is really cost,” said Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

School buses often make multiple runs each morning for older and younger students. Adding bus drivers and rerouting buses is one of the biggest financial obstacles to later start times, Amundson said. The roughly 80 school districts that have adopted later times tend to be smaller, she said.

After-school sports are another often-cited obstacle because a later dismissal delays practices and games. The shift may also cut into time for homework and after-school jobs, Amundson said.

The policy, aimed at middle schools and high schools, was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Evidence on potential dangers for teens who get too little sleep is “extremely compelling” and includes depression, suicidal thoughts, obesity, poor performance in school and on standardized tests and car accidents from drowsy driving, said Dr. Judith Owens, the policy’s lead author and director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The policy cites studies showing that delaying start times can lead to more nighttime sleep and improve students’ motivation in class and mood. Whether there are broader, long-term benefits requires more research, the policy says.

Many administrators support the idea but haven’t resolved the challenges, said Amundson. She said the pediatricians’ new policy likely will have some influence.

Parents seeking a change “will come now armed with this report,” Amundson said.

Amundson is a former Virginia legislator and teacher who also served on the school board of Virginia’s Fairfax County, near Washington, D.C. Owens, the policy author, has been working with that board on a proposal to delay start times. A vote is due in October and she’s optimistic about its chances.

“This is a mechanism through which schools can really have a dramatic, positive impact for their students,” Owens said.


  • Seeker

    If they don’t have to get up till later in the morning , they will just stay up later at night .

    • JustaTech

      Not if they have responsible parents.

      • Pablo Jones

        Well if they still need more sleep those responsible parents should have them go to bed earlier.

      • SniperFire

        You miss the point. This push is all about letting those kids WITHOUT responsible or accountable upbringing sleep in so that they have a better chance of competing with responsible people.

        • Pablo Jones

          Making changes to account for the unaccountable will never make people accountable..

  • SniperFire

    Give them more time to sleep off their benders.

    • oldruss

      Try taking an AP Physics class at 7:15 a.m., or AP Chemistry, or AP Physiology, which is the start time for some area high schools’ AP classes. Guys, like the guys in the picture at the top of the article, aren’t pounding down the brewskies every night of the week.

      • Pablo Jones

        My college classes started at 7:20am. In high school I always did better in my first class of the day instead of the last class of the day.

        • tommyp

          How long ago was that? Normally students seem to do better after lunch.

          • Pablo Jones

            High school was in the 90′s. Come 12 o’clock I was done. I would either have an art class in the afternoon or find a way to leave early. And I was anything but a morning person back then.

            In college I was usually at the library till midnight then up before 7am. But I loved my mid to late morning nap.

      • SniperFire

        Except… This ‘movement’ isn’t about successful, motivated, advanced placement kids, such as those perhaps falsely used in the photo. Is it?

        • oldruss

          A later start time will be beneficial to all students, those in AP classes as well as those in general classes. What is the harm in starting high school and middle school at 8:30 instead of 7:30 or earlier?

  • Boonedawg

    Read Dr. Leonard Sax books, GREAT INFORMATION!!! http://www.boysadrift.com/

  • Tom

    So they’ll have a rude awakening when they get into the job force…

  • SweetScarlet

    If you extend the time, they’ll just stay up later the night before. How about them learning a hard lesson in discipline so that they learn some responsibility?

    • SniperFire

      Responsibility has nothing to do with it. These are liberals, you know.

  • onesears

    Same could be said for the workforce then. I hate starting work at 4 am..

  • Sis Delish

    Have them sleep at school… they do anyways.

    • The Chief

      They eat 3 meals a day there , might as well sleep there too

  • John Davidson

    Why not just go to sleep a little earlier.

    • JustaTech

      These kids are overloaded with homework and then extracurricular activities as well as having a social life. An extra hour in the morning would be a good thing. The elementary schools kids have an extra hour, why not more busy high school students?

      • Pablo Jones

        Delay the start of school and those extracurricular activities just get pushed back and then their homework gets pushed back as well.

      • John Davidson

        There is only 24 hours in a day. It doesn’t matter how you arrange them.

      • Bill Love

        because its about preparing them for the real world lets see if johns boss will let him start a hour later then everyone else

  • SpaceTech

    Gee……no recommendation against kids playing X-box and texting until 2-3am even on school nights?

    • JustaTech

      That would be a parenting issue. What kind of responsible parent would allow that? Not me. My kids are in bed by 10:00pm. That still allows them 8 hrs of sleep.

  • Tommy Peel

    The study makes alot of sense. Its hard to focus when you are tired.

  • http://vocsystems.com MacdaddyOH

    Funny, you clowns couldnt figure that out? You needed a pediatrician to inform you? Makes me wonder how qualified you really are!!

    • oldruss

      The point of the study is that ADOLESCENTS need more sleep as part and parcel of their biological stage in life. Why so much negativity with high school students, especially like the ones in the picture, who are taking Advanced Placement classes?

      • Pablo Jones

        So they need more sleep and the logical solution isn’t to have them go to bed earlier it is to start the day later? And when they stay up later then we need to push the start time back again.

  • JustaTech

    My kids don’t stay up late playing video games. My son in high school has to get up at 6am and they get out around 3pm. My younger child catches his bus around 8:30am. There’s no reason school for Jr. and high school students could not start up to an hour later and they could get out of school later. The bus argument doesn’t even apply because in my district there is no bus service for high school students. I think this would be a great thing all the way around. This is not a liberal/conservative thing, it is a make sense thing.

    • Joe Smith

      So how are the parents supposed to get to work on time if they are dropping the kids off later?

      • JustaTech

        We are talking about Jr. and high school kids here. I would think they could get themselves up and out for school. Even so, elementary students don’t start until 8:30 or later. How did they managing to get their elementary kids to school?

        • Joe Smith

          You just said there was no bus service, do most High School kids drive cars? Nope. If not the parents have to get them there. A lot of elementary students have one parent at home ,since an adult has to be there with them at all times, and they take them to school.

          • JustaTech

            There is rarely a situation when they can’t walk, ride their bike, ride RTA or carpool with classmates.

          • Joe Smith

            We will have to disagree on that, kids under 18 can’t have more that one person in their car that is not related and most schools have limited parking for students anyway so carpooling is not realistic, No real RTA service in this area and most rural areas that would be effective, riding bikes and walking is not safe for the younger crowd especially keeping in mind winter etc.
            Just have the poor spoiled kids go to bed an hour earlier.

  • ekwaykway

    They all like staying up at night so much, let them go to night school and do their sleeping in the daytime.

  • Sis Delish

    Caution: This recommendation is coming from a former Fairfax County, Virginia educator. That County has one of the Highest Per-Capita Household incomes in the U.S. And, because of its transitory population, the taxes keep going up as folks either are moving in for Goverment Jobs or Moving Out because their Government Job was eliminated (via National Elections). If they cannot afford the additional cost of Buses running multiple routes, its doubtful any other school district can.
    Recommendation: Disregard this Report.

    • Piltdown_Man

      So you stalked Amundson and connected him to a “wealthy” community that you believe to be heavily taxed, so the report based on the pediatricians’ research can be dismissed? What?

      • Sis Delish

        “Amundson” is not a Him.

        Amumdson clearly suggests that the real obstacle for implementation of later school starting times is the cost of transportation, i.e.: buses.

        So, the educator herself dismisses the research of the pediatrician in favor of economics.

        Do You Even Read the Source Material before draining yourself emotionally?

        P.S. I’ve paid taxes in Fairfax County, Virginia.

    • JustaTech

      False. This study is from a GROUP of pediatricians who are members of The American Academy of Pediatrics.

      • Sis Delish

        “Amundson is a former Virginia legislator and teacher who also served on the school board of Virginia’s Fairfax County, near Washington, D.C. Owens, the policy author, has been working with that board on a proposal to delay start times.”

        Any Guesses on WHO put the little whisper in the Policy Author’s Ear??

  • tommyp

    No one seems to care about issues that affect teenagers anymore. In elyria at eastern heights, a 6grader has to be at school at 7:20, its still dark at that time. This in itself creates a dangerous situation.

  • tickmeoff

    “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a young man Healthy,Wealthy, and Wise”.
    Benjamin Franklin.

    • Pablo Jones

      That is easy for an old rich white man of privilege to say.

    • SniperFire

      Try to do that laced up with purple drank every night!

  • Tom

    So another case of parenting by the schools. Taking more responsibility away from parenting and more onto the schools.

  • JoyceEarly

    To model having a job, school should start at the same time as a typical job starts. Get use to the routine of being productive.

    • JustaTech

      Normal business hours are typically 8-5 with a 1 hour break for lunch, so your argument coincides with this reports recommendation.

      • Bill Love

        no most jobs are not its 7 to 3:30 with a 1/2 hour lunch

        • JustaTech

          I’m not sure where you work, but I work in a multinational corporation and we have thousands of clients, all of which operate 8am-5pm within their respective time zones.

          • Joe Smith

            I work for a fortune 5 not 500 but 5 company and the jobs start at 7 and 7:30 am

          • JustaTech

            Your situation is not the norm. Ever hear of the old term 9 to 5?

          • Bill Love

            I do fire alarms and security systems and door access systems mostly start at 7:30 but sometimes earlier depending on customer. I’m just saying the real world don’t care how much you sleep you have to get your job done