The American Academy Of Pediatrics, the nation’s largest pediatric group, have released a new policy statement that urges middles schools and high schools to delay their daily start time. The doctors say that the start of classes should be pushed back to “8:30 a.m. or later” as “an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss.”

The statement says that teens’ natural sleep cycles make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m., making the typical 7:30 a.m. start time a challenge.

“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 Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children's National Medical Center and lead author of the AAP statement.

Ownes continued, “The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life. Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”

According to the AAP, a National Sleep Foundation poll found that “59 percent of 6th through 8th graders and 87 percent of high school students in the U.S. were getting less than the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep on school nights.”

You can read the full statement from the AAP on their official website. Should school start times be pushed back for teens? Is 7:30 a.m. too early for you? Let us know your thoughts.

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