Although 8:30 a.m. or later is the start time most often recommended by health professionals, “fewer than 1 in 5 middle and high schools in the U.S. began” at that time or later in the school year starting 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
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Nearly 40,000 public schools were surveyed in the study. The average start time was 8:03 a.m., but there were big differences among states:
- All schools in Hawaii, Mississippi and Wyoming started before 8:30 a.m.
- Most schools in Alaska and North Dakota started at 8:30 a.m. or later.
- Louisiana had the earliest average school start time – 7:40 a.m.
- Alaska had the latest start-time average – 8:33 a.m.
The problem: Kids aren’t getting enough sleep
The reason it matters, doctors say, is that adolescents should sleep, at a minimum, between 8.5 and 9.5 hours a night.
Lack of sleep “is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks such as being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs – as well as poor academic performance,” according to the CDC, citing a 2013 study.