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Pediatricians call for later school start time

If your teen seems sleepy, you are not alone. The average teen is sleep deprived according to an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, on August 25, 2014. The article states that The American Academy of Pediatrics says teenagers need more sleep.

American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations

CBS News states that 59 percent of all middle school students and 87 percent of all high school students do not get enough sleep. Dr. Carol Ash explains why just having teens go to bed earlier will not work. The root of the problem is that teenagers run on a different sleep cycle than the rest of us. Their bodies do not start producing melatonin, a sleep hormone, until after 11:00 p.m.

Dangers of sleep deprivation

Sleep deprived teens are at a higher risk for health and mental problems. They are also at a higher risk for automobile accidents and collisions. Many teens turn to caffeine to alleviate tiredness. Caffeine disrupts the sleep cycle further and can lead to participation in other dangerous behaviors.

Solutions

To combat a sleep-deprived teenage population, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that high schools move the opening bell ½ hour to one hour later. Doing so will put the high school day more in line with a teenager’s biological rhythm.

Parents can help their teens fall into a better sleep cycle by limiting the number of electronic devices in the room. At bedtime, leave the cell phones, tablets, and laptops out of the bedroom. Light from these devices can lead to an average loss of two hours of sleep each night. If your teen is showing signs of sleep deprivation, talk to your pediatrician or family physician about how to rectify the situation.