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Blog Feature

By: Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D. on July 25th, 2019

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The Start School Later Movement: Putting Sleep Health on the National Radar

school start times

Anyone raising children expects challenges along the way, from those sleepless first nights and toddler tantrums to the trauma of teaching teenagers to drive. But few are prepared for the recurring nightmare of waking a teenager for school at the crack of dawn.

Getting a teenager up and off to 7 or 8 a.m. classes can feel like waking the dead — even in homes that enforce reasonable bedtimes. If you understand sleep science, you know why. Essentially, these early start times force families to fight biology. They fly in the face of everything we know about adolescent sleep needs and patterns and create a sizable sleep debt every week.

The heart of the problem is a well-documented shift in sleep cycles (circadian rhythms) beginning at puberty that makes it difficult for most adolescents to fall asleep as early as younger children or older adults — or to wake for very early classes. The science showing that early school hours are unsafe, unhealthy and counterproductive for adolescents is so compelling that many major health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the Society of Behavioral Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are calling for an end to middle and high school start times before 8:30 a.m. Yet according to the CDC, nearly five in six U.S. middle and high schools still start before then. Over 10% of high schools start regular class before 7:30 a.m., with nearly half starting before 8 a.m. Bus runs begin as early as 5 a.m. in some districts. The good news is that an increasing number of communities are realizing later school start times benefit kids and communities. Hundreds of schools have already found ways to run classes at more developmentally appropriate times by prioritizing health and learning. Others never moved to such insanely early hours in the first place.

In the rest of this article from the Q2 2019 issue of A2Zzz,  Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D., discusses the proven policy solution to help teen sleep inefficiency and pitches how to join forces for sleep health. 

AAST_366123-19_A2Zzz_Q2_coverhigh-1This article  is one of four designated CEC articles in this issue of A2Zzz. AAST members who read A2Zzz and claim their credits online by the deadline can earn 2.00 AAST Continuing Education Credits (CECs) per issue – for up to 8.00 AAST CECs per year. AAST CECs are accepted by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) and the American Board of Sleep Medicine (ABSM).

To earn AAST CECs, carefully read the four designated CEC articles and claim your credits online. You must go online to claim your credits by the deadline of Aug. 15, 2019.

After the successful completion of this educational activity, your certificates will be available in the My CEC Portal acknowledging the credits earned.

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