AUGUST 8, 2015 LAST UPDATED: SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, 2015, 1:21 AM
BY HANNAN ADELY
STAFF WRITER |
New Jersey middle and high schools start their day on average at 8 a.m. — on par with other schools in the nation but too early for students to get a good night’s sleep, according to medical experts.
And that, in turn, can contribute to a host of health problems for adolescents, those experts say.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a state-by-state analysis this week showing that school start times for 2012, the most recently available data, averaged 8:03 a.m.
The report came less than a year after the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that middle and high schools begin their days no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Only 17.7 percent of schools — and 14.9 percent in New Jersey — started at 8:30 a.m. or later.
“Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health, safety, and academic performance,” said Anne Wheaton, lead author and epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Population Health. “Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need.”
Students should get 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep, according to the CDC. Insufficient sleep is common among high school students and is associated with such health risks as being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs — as well as poor grades, the agency said in its report.
In New Jersey, school start times have been debated for years, but the debate intensified after the pediatrics academy released its 2014 policy paper.