A Compelling Reason to Start School Later (Finally!)

Teenagers aren’t the only ones who want to sleep in (and why they might be on to something).

Photo by Tetra Images/Getty Images

Tired teens aren't the only ones asking for a few more Zzs. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended a delayed school start time, arguing it would improve students' health, performance in school, and overall quality of life. 

The proposed start time is 8:30 a.m. or later, but only 17.7 percent of public schools currently follow this guideline, according to a new report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report, which surveyed 39,700 U.S. public, high, and combined schools during the 2011-2012 school year, found that the average school start time is 8:03 a.m.

Though start times varied from state-to-state, 42 states reported that 75 to 100 percent of their public schools began before 8:30 a.m. Louisiana schools had the earliest start time (7:40 a.m.), while Alaska reported the latest (8:33 a.m.). According to the survey, all schools in Hawaii, Mississippi, and Wyoming began before 8:30 a.m.  

The report cites that less than one-third of U.S. high school students get eight hours of sleep during the week—despite the National Sleep Foundation's recommendation that they get 8-10 hours. Previous studies have shown that insufficient sleep causes people to eat more, make poor decisions, and react negatively to stressful situations. Despite other solutions, like parent-set bedtimes and decreased technology use, the study argues that delaying school start times is the most effective way for students to get more sleep on school nights.

For now, try starting a nightly routine—and check out these five secrets for a more restful night of sleep.