Teenagers’ school days shouldn’t start before 8:30am, according to sleep research group  the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. In fact, starting any earlier could expose teens to a greater risk of car accidents, depression and poor academic performance.

 

Later start times are associated with better mental health and peak alertness at school, according to a statement published by the group in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

 

The academy recommends that teens aged between 13 and 18 sleep at least eight hours every night. However, data from the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) shows two-thirds of students sleep less than seven hours on school nights.

 

The dangers associated with this lack of sleep among teens include obesity, athletic injuries, depression symptoms and risky behaviours, according to the Academy.

 

A 2015 analysis from the CDC found that 83 percent of American schools started earlier than 8:30am, with 8:30am being the average start time for public middle and high schools.

 

 

Another study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that a one-hour delay in start times was linked to a 16.5 percent drop in the rate of car crashes among student drivers.

 

The study found that daytime sleepiness was the main risk factor for car crashes among young students. The preference for a later start can continue well into adulthood, with a study examining college students’ habits finding that they preferred a start time of 11am or later.

 

Earlier this year, a UK school announced they would be reviewing early start times, in order to offer students the best school experience possible and facilitate the sleep needs of adolescents.

 

Blatchington Mill School, in Sussex, will be consulting students, staff and parents about moving the start time from 8:30am to 9:25am, according to The Mirror. The school day would then end at 4pm rather than 3pm.

 

 

Head teacher Ashley Harrold said: “We want to take an approach of looking at research to see how to do things better for young people and families and then implement this in the school.

 

“We don’t think that school is the way it is and can never be changed."

 

There were mixed reactions from parents, with some welcoming the review and others saying it would interfere with their child’s daily routine and after-school activities.

 

If the school decides to go ahead with this plan, it will not come into force until 2018.

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