particularly important for teenagers. It helps to restore both mind and body.
Sleep can also be a time of increased healing and a time of accelerated growth.
But, there has been a general consensus that not many adolescents get enough
sleep. Experts recommend that teenagers
must get between 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep per night
. However, every two out of three high school students
in the US fail to get enough sleep
, and this trend has remained the same
are notorious for causing their own sleep deprivation by staying up too late,
playing with electronic gadgets, or watching television, the researchers noted
that this sleep loss among adolescents
is confined primarily to school nights
, rather than weekend nights. Students lose up to 2 hours of sleep each
night after the start of school
. The 2011 National Sleep Foundation poll
revealed that only 14% of high school students between the ages of 13 and 18
years reported getting nine or more hours of sleep on weeknights.
Lack of adequate
sleep could impair the adolescents' learning and development. Insufficient
sleep time has been linked to significant risks, including higher rates of
obesity, depression, anxiety
fatigue, increased rates of suicides, and automobile accidents among
adolescents. Chronic sleep
results in an overall lower quality of life. Associate
Professor of Psychology Avi Sadeh, a leading authority in this field, has said,
"In teens a loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to the loss of two years of
cognitive maturation and development."
The sleep-wake cycle in adolescents runs from
approximately 11 pm to 8 am
, while most US high schools schedule classes
around 7 am. The sleep hormone melatonin
adolescents to sleep at this time. Early school start time has been identified
as a factor contributing to teen sleep deficiency by the National Institutes of
Health (NIH) and the American Lung Association of New England.
There is growing
evidence that middle and high school students could benefit from a late school
schedule by getting more sleep time. Previous studies from the University of Minnesota's
Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement have revealed that shifting the school start time later in the
morning resulted in a boost in attendance, test scores, and grades in math,
English, science, and social studies. Schools also noted a decrease in
tardiness, substance abuse, and symptoms of depression among the students. There
was a dramatic drop in teen car crashes.
While the role of
parents in ensuring that their children get enough rest cannot be ruled out, it
must be noted that schools also play an important role in students' daily
To investigate the role
of school timing on students' sleep patterns, CDC researchers reviewed data
from the 2011-2012 Schools and Staffing Survey comprising of nearly 40,000
public, middle, high and combined schools. They observed that majority of
middle and high schools were starting the day too early. Fewer than 1 in 5 schools began at the recommended time of 8.30 am or
For the first time, the
federal CDC is urging education
policymakers to start middle and high school classes later in the morning.
The idea is to ensure that adolescents get sufficient sleep so that they can
thrive both physically and academically.
recommendations come a year after the American Academy of Pediatrics urged
schools to adjust start times so that more children would get the recommended
hours of nightly rest.
Lead author Anne
Wheaton, an epidemiologist in the CDC's Division of Population Health, while
explaining the importance of sleep said, "Getting enough sleep is important for
students' health, safety, and academic performance. Early school start times,
however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need. The
CDC report suggests that at least 75% of public schools start earlier than 8.30
strongly recommend schools to start at a later time, but also warn that other
factors must also be addressed to have a significant effect. The study urged
health care professionals, especially those working in schools, to raise awareness of the importance of adequate
. They recommended that pediatricians should take an active approach
by supporting and educating families on healthy
. They also encouraged parental
in setting bedtimes and supervising sleep practices. Parents
should ensure reasonable bedtimes, impose limits on the use of technology, and
encourage physical activity in children to help them get the sleep they need.
The study is published