Starting School Too Early 

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggested in 2014 that middle and high school students start no sooner than 8:30 am. However, the AAP found that approximately 93% of North American high school start times were before 8:30.

Data structured and compiled from the National Center for Education Statistics through 2017 and 2018 supports that finding.

School Start Time Statistics:

  • 7:30 am — Louisiana’s students start very brightly and early. They say some students are still in dreamland at that time.
  • 7:36-7:45 am — schools across some states start this early at public high schools in Massachusetts, Nevada, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.
  • 7:46-7:55 am —it is still early. Still, students at these schools are already in class in Delaware, Florida, Colorado, Mississippi, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Ohio.
  • 7:56-8:05 am — start times for high schoolers in New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Washington.
  • 8:06-8:15 am — students slowly but surely make their way to class in Hawaii, Idaho, South Dakota, Virginia, Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Texas.
  • 8:16-8:25 am — two states start this early: Minnesota and Iowa.
  • 8:26-8:35 am — school starts later in South Carolina and Alaska.
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Most American high schools start before or at 8 am, more than 20% at 7:45 am or earlier. Only 15% of students begin at or after the earliest recommended starting time of 8:30 am.

A study done by the National Sleep Foundation discovered that 59% of 6th through 8th graders and 87% of high school students had less than the suggested amount of sleep (8.5 to 9.5 hours) during school nights.

To quote the words of America’s leading hypnotic publication Sleep Review, the average North American adolescent is “pathologically sleepy and chronically sleep-deprived.”

Chronic sleep loss in adolescent’s negative consequences include:

  • In addition, sleep debt and disrupted sleep-wake cycles could suffer in impaired judgment, a lack of motivation and overall alertness is reduced, which leads to poor academic performance.
  • A bidirectional relationship between mood disorders and sleep disturbances, particularly depression.
  • Insufficient and irregular sleep in high school students predicted various types of risky behaviour like smoking, drunk driving, drug-taking, and delinquency.
  • Teenagers with inadequate sleep have an increased risk of suicidal tendencies.
  • A few studies found links between obesity and sleep deprivation. 
  • A lack leads to metabolic distress, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Sleeplessness dramatically increases the risk of car accidents.

The CDC and the AAP endorse later start times in schools and tell parents to advocate for those later start times.

Dean Mathers


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