Should school start later so teens get more sleep?

Sisters moves that way; findings have C.O. doctors, principals on board

Would more Z's mean more A's?

SISTERS, Ore. - You've heard the phrase 'you snooze, you lose.' Believe it or not, that might be the wrong catchphrase for high school students.

"When we got down to it, the concern was well how early do we really have to start?" Sisters High School Principal Joe Hosang said Monday.

This year Sisters High is starting 20 minutes later than last year. Now the first bell now rings at 8:10 a.m.

"We started talking back in May and agreed, 'Let's start it later. We'll have a healthier staff and a healthier student body,'" Hosang said.

Hosang may be on the right track.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says pushing back school start times to 8:30 a.m. or later is key to helping them achieve optimal levels of sleep.

Some doctors on the High Desert agree.

"One of the problems the school systems face is they are asked to teach calculus at 7:30 in the morning, when that child's brain is saying, 'I really want to be asleep,'" said Dr. David Dedrick, director of the St. Charles Sleep Center.

Research from the National Sleep Foundation shows that teens need 8 ½ to 9 ¼ hours of sleep a night, but usually get around seven. Chronic sleep deprivation can have some severe consequences for high school students.

"Higher rates of psychiatric problems with kids who don't get enough sleep, depression and suicidal behaviors, which can be very concerning for a lot of teenagers as well," Dedrick said.

Hosang would love an 8:30 start time for his students, but he says it's not that simple.

"There's only one bus garage, and then there's sports and there's just all these things that add into it. So we really squeezed as much as we could," Hosang said.

Students getting in more Z's at home, for more A's in the classroom.

"Unequivocally, we can say that if you're not getting enough sleep that is appropriate for your age, bad things are going to come to you -- and especially your brain," Dedrick said.

According to the Department of Education, about 43 percent of the more than 18,000 public high schools in the U.S. have a start time before 8 a.m. Just 15 percent start at 8:30 a.m. or later.

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