Both students and the government agree: going to school early is damaging to your health.
Image via Flickr user Pink Sherbet Technology
American teenagers love to whine. And while most of their complaints are quickly (and fairly) labeled as “absurd,” some are grounded in real science. A recent report by the CDC showed that teenagers are starting school way too early—and it’s time to push the clock forward.
The report, available here, showed that four out of five high school students start school before 8:30 a.m.—which the CDC defines as too early. Teenagers should receive anywhere from eight and a half to nine and half hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep leads to poor academic performance, and other serious health issues: smoking, drinking, obesity. While a 9 a.m. start time may not solve the “sleepy crisis,” it definitely gives teens some extra time to catch up on some extra zzzs—leading to serious academic gains.
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But despite research, changes may be slow to follow. Schools often save money (and administrative energy) by pushing early bus times. Many scientists and families hope that school districts will listen to the statistics, and reorganize. 9 a.m. may not seem like a big deal. 10 a.m.: a distant teenage dream. But for many teenagers struggling to make it through homeroom, simple minutes may make a huge social difference.