Dr. Henry Paul, MD

Psychiatrist, Author and Educator


August 26th, 2014

Your teenager wants to sleep later and now his doctor agrees. Middle and high school students shouldn’t have to start school until 8:30 in the morning or later, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. NBC News

With school starting next week, now is as good a time as ever to discuss how much sleep your teenager needs. A new study out yesterday from the American Academy of Pediatrics says that children, teens in particular, need more sleep and suggests that they would be more successful in school if the school day did not start before 8:30 am. Most school days now start for teens between 7:15 and 7:30 am.

In an interview with NBC News, Dr. Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, who led the team that wrote the group’s policy statement on the issue said, “The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life.”

In a statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics said insufficient sleep in adolescents is an important public health issue that significantly affects the health and safety, as well as the academic success, of our nation’s middle and high school students. It went on to say that a substantial body of research has now demonstrated that delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and has a wide range of potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety, and academic achievement.

TIME reported in their article on the study that according to a 2006 National Sleep Foundation poll, 87% of high school students don’t get the recommended 9 to 10 hours of sleep they need to function at their best and promote healthy mental and physical development; most average around seven hours of sleep on weeknights.

Parents should talk with their teens about how important sleep is to their overall health and well-being. While we cannot change the school day this late in the game, we can make sure that teens understand the power behind getting enough sleep. Encourage them to turn off the I-Phone and music and put aside the TV remote to make sure to get those extra z’s. The best environment for sleep is in a room without a lot of electronics and which is cool, quiet and dark.

Parents should also know the common causes of insomnia. These include stress, anxiety, stimulus overload, caffeine, and side-effects to medications. Here are some links to my blogs explaining the various sleeping problems and suggested treatments.

Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription.

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