CHICAGO (Reuters) – The American Medical Association on Tuesday urged starting school later in the morning for teenagers so they can get enough sleep.
In a new policy adopted on Tuesday, the AMA said middle and high schools should start at 8:30 a.m. at the earliest because research has shown that puberty is accompanied by a biological shift in circadian rhythm that contributes to later bedtimes and wake-up times in adolescents.
The influential doctors group said nearly 10 percent of US high schools today begin at or before 7:30 a.m. as districts try to make time for additional classes, sports and extracurricular activities.
Inadequate sleep has been linked to a host of mental and physical problems, from poor memory performance and mood disorders to impaired immune function and unhealthy body mass index, the AMA said.
“Sleep deprivation is a growing public health issue affecting our nation’s adolescents, putting them at risk for mental, physical and emotional distress and disorders,” said Dr. William Kobler, an AMA board member.