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Are early school bells ringing in teen sleep deprivation?

Let’s rally together to give our children the sleep they need for optimal growth and learning!

Wake up! It’s time to address an issue that’s impacting our teens nationwide: the chronic sleep deprivation caused by early school start times.

As you sip your morning coffee, think of the countless bleary-eyed teenagers dragging themselves to school in the wee hours, missing out on essential shut-eye.

The alarming reality is that this lack of sleep is not just a minor inconvenience for our teens – it’s a growing concern that has significant implications for their physical health, mental wellbeing, and academic performance.

Are our school schedules doing more harm than good?

Let’s dive into this critical topic and explore the compelling case for later school start times.

We owe it to our kids to provide them with a learning environment that truly nurtures their development.

The issue of early school start times

It’s a common sight at high schools across the country: bleary-eyed teens, clutching their coffees and yawning their way through first period.

Early school start times have been a staple of the education system for decades, but a growing body of research suggests these schedules may be doing more harm than good.

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In particular, they appear to be contributing to a significant problem: sleep deprivation in teens.

Importance of sleep for teens

First, it’s crucial to understand why sleep is so important for teenagers.

As the American Academy of Pediatrics notes, sleep is essential for a teen’s physical health, mental health, and academic performance.

Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best, but many are falling short of this goal.

A 2015 poll found that 87% of high school students in the United States were getting less than the recommended amount of sleep.

Teenagers’ unique sleep patterns

Part of the problem is that teenagers have unique sleep patterns.

During adolescence, the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, naturally shifts to a later schedule.

This means that most teens can’t fall asleep until 11 p.m. or later, regardless of when they need to wake up.

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Early school start times, which often require students to rise before sunrise, are at odds with this biological shift.

It’s like asking an adult to get up at 4 a.m. every day.

The consequences of sleep deprivation in teens

The consequences of this chronic sleep deprivation can be severe.

Studies have linked lack of sleep in teens to a variety of issues, including decreased cognitive function, poor academic performance, mental health issues (such as depression and anxiety), and even increased risk of car accidents.

For instance, a study in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that when a school district in Kentucky pushed back start times from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., car crash rates for teen drivers dropped by 16.5%.

The push for later school start times

In light of these findings, many experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

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Despite these recommendations, a 2015 study in the Journal of School Health found that only 17.7% of public middle and high schools in the U.S. started at 8:30 a.m. or later.


In conclusion, early school start times and the resulting sleep deprivation are a significant issue for teens today.

As a society, we need to pay more attention to the sleep needs of our adolescents and consider how our school schedules might be contributing to this problem.

By pushing back school start times, we can help our teens get the sleep they need to thrive.

Did this article help you understand the impact of early school starts on sleep deprivation in teens?

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Kimberly Almond
Written by: Kimberly Almond