Doctors suggest starting school later may be beneficial for teens

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SHERMAN, TX -- With class back in session for most Texoma schools, kids will be waking up earlier but doctors say that could be bad for their health. The solution they propose may just surprise you.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is suggesting a later start time for middle and high schoolers.

They say teens don't get the recommended amount of sleep and some News 12 spoke to today say even an extra 30 minutes in the morning could make a big difference.

"Sometimes I fall asleep in class," said eighth grader, Jess Lewter.

"When I have a certain test day or quizzes, my mind is a little more drowsy," said junior, Austin Gittens.

A report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics says delaying the start of class for middle and high school students until 8:30 am or later could be beneficial for teens' health.

"The average adolescent is not getting the typical 8 1/2 - 9 hours of sleep that they typically need," said Dr. Judith Owens.

The report states that a lack of sleep for youth can lead to health issues like obesity, or mental health issues like depression.

The AAP says delaying start times would help with teens' sleep schedules which begin to shift up to two hours later as they go through puberty.

The study says trying to get teens to go to bed earlier isn't realistic with homework and after school jobs.

"The melatonin in their brain isn't really that active until later on in the evening so they really aren't getting good sleep until after that 10 o'clock time," said parent, Toni Gittens.

"There's a solid body of research that now shows that delaying school start times at both the middle and high school level, reverses a lot of the negative consequences," Owens said.

The AAP study shows about 40 percent of the nation's high schools and middle schools start at or before 8 A.M., as do most of the schools in Texoma.

"I play football and so sometimes I still have that 6AM or 7AM feeling so I think with that extra 30 minutes, I'd feel a lot better because I wouldn't feel drowsy the whole entire day," Gittens said.

"I'm able to get up easier in the morning because I've had more sleep," Lewter said.

According to a National Sleep Foundation Poll, 59 percent of middle schoolers and 87 percent of high schoolers were getting less than the 8 1/2 to 9 hours of sleep recommended on school nights.

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