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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Should school start times be moved back to help combat the problem of American children not getting enough sleep?
Back to school means early days for millions of students. Around our area, many schools start at 7:30 a.m.
In California, there’s legislation pending that would require middle and high schools there to start later.
Philadelphia students are getting released early because of the heat. For most, their days start before 8:30 in the morning.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has been pushing for school start times to be 8:30 a.m. or later to combat what it calls a sleepiness epidemic.
That could happen in California, pending legislation there would require middle and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., giving students more time to sleep.
According to the CDC, 60 percent of middle school students and 70 percent of high school students do not get the recommended amount of sleep per night. Slacking sleep could negatively affect their health and learning.
“It can cause poor academic performance, drowsy driving, depression, loneliness, social isolation, addictive behaviors, weight gain, obesity, and hypertension,” said Dr. Carol Ash.
The CDC says children ages six through twelve need between nine and twelve hours of sleep a night and teenagers need eight to ten hours.
Sleep experts say children’s brains are wired differently so simply telling them to go to bed earlier is not the solution.
“Melatonin gets released later in children and also the pressure to fall asleep is less, so it’s harder for them to fall asleep at night,” explained Dr. Ash.
The CDC says to improve your children’s sleep, make sure they consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends. Also keep bedrooms at a cool 65-70 degrees, impose media and electronics curfew and dim the lighting.
Studies have shown that delaying school start times just 25 minutes can lead to increased academic performance and lower incidence of mood disorders.
It appears kids are almost hard-wired to stay up later and sleep later.