CDC: Most Middle & High Schools Start Too Early

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – What time does your child’s school bell ring? If it’s before 8:30 AM, the Centers for Disease Control say it’s too early and may lead to insufficient sleep and related health risks.

Too early of a start time can keep students from getting the sleep needed for their health, safety and academic success, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Fewer than 1 in 5 middle and high schools in the U.S. began the school day at the recommended 8:30 AM start time or later during the 2011-2012 school year, according to data published Thursday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In Florida, according to the research, the average start time was 8:17 AM. In the entire U.S., the average start time was 8:03 AM. Louisiana had the earliest average school start time of 7:40 AM, while Alaska had the latest of 8:33 AM.

Schools that have a start time of 8:30 AM or later, according to the CDC, allows adolescent students the opportunity to get the recommended sleep—which on school nights for adolescents is 8.5 to 9.5 hours.

Insufficient sleep, the CDC said, is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks such as being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs as well as poor academic performance. The 2 out of 3 proportion of students who fail to get adequate sleep has remained steady since 2007, according to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report.

Last year, the AAP issued a policy statement which urged middle and high schools to modify start times—which is determined at the district of individual school—level no earlier than the 8:30 AM start time.

There are ways, the authors report, to help children get adequate sleep, one of which is to work on setting a consistent bed and rise time–even on the weekends.

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