American Academy of Pediatrics: Middle schools and high schools shouldn’t start class until 8:30 A.M.

Posted at 1:24 PM, Aug 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-26 13:24:26-04

(CNN) - As kids all across the country once again set their alarms for back-to-school wake-up calls, one group of doctors says if those students don’t snooze they could lose.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 physicians. Yesterday, it put out a statement which is sure to capture the attention of countless families: it recommends middle and high schools don’t start school until 8:30 A.M., or later. They said that’s a key factor to help adolescents get the sleep they need.

The AAP said there’s solid research to show what happens when young people don’t get enough sleep. They are more likely to be overweight, suffer depression, be involved in automobile accidents, have lower grades, and lower standardized test scores.

One reason early school start times is a problem is that adolescents’ sleep rhythms change with puberty — shifting sleep cycles up to two hours later. That’s as an estimated 40% of high schools start before 8 o’clock in the morning and the median middle school start time is 8 A.M.

The AAP points out that adolescents should get a recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep on school nights and says a national sleep foundation poll found 59% of middle schoolers and more than 8 out of 10 high school students did not get that much sleep.

School start times in Hampton Roads vary widely:

Virginia Beach students wake up the earliest - their classes begin at 7:20.

Chesapeake students get the most sleep - their school day begins at 8:34.

And on the peninsula Hampton high school students begin their day at 8:20.