Will More Zs Produce More As and Bs?

student sleeping on desk

Sleep Outfitters is pleased to honor Nashville-area teachers. Now, if we could just help them and their students get a little more sleep, we’d all be better off, especially the students. 

On average, U.S. middle and high schools start classes at 8:03 a.m., according to a 2015 Centers for Disease Control study. There is a growing body of research that suggests classes for middle and high school students should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. In fact, there’s an entire website, startschoollater.net, devoted to that notion.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Medical Association all recommend schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. That’s because teens need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night, but due to their internal clocks (their natural circadium rhythms), they inherently want to go to bed later and wake up later. So, when we wake them up to catch that early-morning bus, we’re doing so when they’re in the middle of deep sleep. The 2015 CDC study found 73 percent of high school students get fewer than eight hours sleep per night.

Just 14 percent of U.S. high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later. So, kids fall asleep in class, have trouble concentrating, have an increased propensity toward weight gain, diabetes, car accidents and other bad behaviors, such as smoking, drinking and stimulant abuse. If you don’t get your rest, you’re not at your best!

In November 2015, the Seattle school board voted to move school start times an hour later, to 8:45 a.m., for all high schools and most middle schools, beginning with the fall semester of 2016. Seventy of the nation’s more than 24,000 school districts have made similar changes in hopes it will improve student performance. The latest is in Kanawha County, West Virginia where high schools will start classes at 8:30 a.m. beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.

“We’re going to look back on this time period and wonder why it took so long,” said Phyllis Payne of Start School Later.

There was a time when going without sleep was considered a macho thing to do. That time should have passed. We should now know that sleep, like a proper diet and moderate exercise, is crucial to living a healthy, productive life.

If you’re not sleeping well because of your mattress, see us at Sleep Outfitters. But if more serious issues are keeping you from the rest you need, see a medical professional. We all sleep, and we all should sleep well, especially our students.

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