It’s a teenage rite of passage to have a phase that involves sleeping in until noon on the weekends and going to bed in the wee hours of the morning — and, of course, the accompanying “Why are you so lazy these days?” accusation from parents and teachers.
It’s not really a surprise that this trend leads to widespread and chronic sleep deprivation among teenagers, which in turn leads to poor academic performance, health, and emotional stability.
But it’s not so much a trend as it is a natural process of shifting circadian rhythms; something which happens in every human body as it reaches puberty. And schools, health officials are stating, are making things worse by trying to fight it.
According to TIME and the Washington Post, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a new report explaining that when schools start classes earlier, students are more likely to be sleep deprived and less likely to do well in school.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that middle and high schools in the U.S. start at 8:30 a.m. or later, according to HealthDay News, but about five out of six middle schools and high schools start before that time. The average American public school starts at 8:03AM, but in some states, like in Louisiana, the average starting time for the school day is 7:40AM.
Health experts state that high school students should be getting anywhere from 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night, but TIME reports that only about a third of American students today get at least eight hours of sleep per night.
Despite the obvious benefits of starting classes later, many schools have run into problems with changing class times — everything from bus schedules to sports practices would be affected.