Not another study please. We need real action to fix the problem of sleep deprivation for middle and high school students.
This seems to be the reaction to Sen. Richard Codey’s move for a legislation to direct the state Department of Education to study the potential health benefits of a later start of school timings.
It is a well-researched fact that students in upper grades do not get enough sleep. In August, the American Academy of Pediatrics cited a National Sleep Foundation poll that found 59 percent of middle school and 87 percent of high school students slept less than the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours at night. After-school activities, homework, part-time jobs, other distractions and wake-up alarms to accommodate early school hours truncate their sleep hours.
The academy pointed to research that shows adolescents with enough sleep get better grades, have a higher quality of life and run reduced risks of depression, overweight and being involved in automobile accidents. They recommend that the school day begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m. for middle and high school students.
Would flipping high and elementary school starting times resolve the issue? In many school districts, bus schedules are staggered for different grade levels to save money. High school starting times are generally the earliest, followed by middle and elementary schools.
Reversing start times could have attendant issues. It could disrupt after-school athletics, other extracurricular activities and part-time student jobs. It could mean completing homework at later hours impacting the amount of sleep older students get.
The firm view is that it should be left to administrators and school board members in every school district to consider and act on these points. Not the state. Not another study.
Source: Gannett Healthcare Group
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