Researchers: Later School Start Time Could Make Kids Healthier

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Pushing back the school start time for teens. Research suggests it could help with kids’ overall health.

Tracey Leong has the story.

It has sparked a countrywide debate and it’s a topic most teens and parents can agree on.

A tired teen doesn’t always make the best student.

“Sleep in school sometimes,” said Jacob Campbell.

“I just end up being tired all day and keep my head down and miss a lot of work,” said Michael Lord.

School begins at 7:40 a.m. for Lord and Campbell. Hitting the sheets at midnight on a school night means they aren’t getting the optimal amount of sleep.

Most teens are sleep-deprived. They need about 8.5 to 9.5 hours a night but only 13% of high school students are getting it.

“When they are in a constant state of insomnia, they do have significant higher risks of depression, car crashes and really not having great functioning at school,” said Dr. Scott Krugman.

Krugman with Medstar Franklin Square Medical Center supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ suggestion for delaying the middle school and high school start time, beginning no earlier than 8:30.

“Some school districts have made the leap and switched the time and those kids end up doing better,” he said.

Parents can play a big role by scheduling a set bedtime and making sure kids stick with it.

“We often recommend parents take the TV out of the room, take cell phones out of the room, stick with routines,” Krugman said.

A well-rested child is a top priority for parents.

“I have two girls that feed off of sleep and their day is good or bad depending on it so it’s on my mind constantly,” said David Norris.

Students are also seeing the benefits.

“My biggest problem is being tired and not wanting to work so having a bit more time to wake up and get ready and everything,” Lord said.

“I think I would be able to stay awake in class the whole time and pay more attention,” Campbell said.

Later school start times are being discussed in Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Howard counties.

Studies have also shown that teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to become obese.

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