Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early. Yet University of Michigan research finds parents are split almost down the middle on whether they support delays in school start times that might permit their 13- to 17-year-olds to sleep later on school days. Photo courtesy University of Michigan
Aug. 18 (UPI) -- A new study by the University of Michigan finds that parents are divided in support of delays in school start times that would allow teens to get more sleep.
Researchers analyzed data from a nationally representative survey from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Poll on Children's Health.
In the study, published in the August edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 554 parents whose teens all started school before 8:30 a.m. reported their opinions on how much sleep their teens age 13 to 17 need and if later school start times are better for them.
"We found that parents underestimated how much sleep their children needed, and only about half agreed with existing recommendations that school start times should be later," Galit Dunietz, a postdoctoral research fellow in neurology at Michigan Medicine, said in a press release.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the National Sleep Foundation recommend teens age 13 to 18 sleep eight to 10 hours a night, every night.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine school start time recommendations account for teens' natural circadian rhythms.
"If their bodies don't tell them they're tired until 11 p.m. or later and then they have to be at school before 7:30 a.m., many of these teens experience a chronic sleep debt," Dunietz, also with the U-M Sleep Disorders Center, said.
Researchers found 51 percent of parents surveyed supported later school start times. Of those opposed to later school start times, transportation issues and logistical concerns regarding activities and meal times was a concern.
"Many teens would do fine if they could go to bed late and sleep late in the morning," said Dr. Ronald Chervin, neurologist and director of the U-M Sleep Disorders Center. "But they can be late to school or become chronically sleep-deprived when classes start early every weekday."