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Temple: Study Shows Students Aren't Getting Enough Sleep

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TEMPLE (August 26, 2014) Early school start times make teens sleepy with multiple effects.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says the insufficient sleep is “an important public health issue that significantly affects the health and safety, as well as the academic success, of our nation’s middle and high school students.”

The National Sleep Foundation Poll found that 59 percent of middle school students along with 87 percent of high school students aren't getting enough sleep during the school week.

Seventy-one percent of the parents weren't aware that their teens weren’t getting enough sleep.

"This is part of why we see teenagers being really difficult to wake up in the morning, why they have problems eating breakfast they feel nauseous if they try and eat because their body physically isn't awake at that time," said Dr. Meera Beharry, McLane Children's Hospital Baylor Scott & White.

The AAP suggests that the best solution would be to have middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Only 15 percent of high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later.

"Kids who have later start times tend to have better academic performance less day time sleepiness, less behavior problems less obesity problems as well so there's a variety of health factors that are improved when young people sleep with their natural rhythm," said Dr. Beharry.

"Once the athletics starts practice and all that, the most sleep he'll get is maybe six, seven for the fact that he has to be at school early, and then there's practice after school and other activities," said parent Rosizela Figueroa.

Parent Ashlee Marell said she thinks school starting earlier is much better for the kids to have flexibility."

Marell said that parents can find other ways to ensure their teen gets enough sleep.

"They also say to cut your phone off thirty minutes before you go to bed. So and I usually do that myself, that way it doesn't wake me up at night."

Dr. Beharry said that it's not easy for teens to fall asleep early because during adolescence, changes in the biological clock naturally make teens go to bed later.

Other things can keep teens from sleeping enough, such as lights from phones and tablets that affect a hormone called Melatonin.

"When parents can make those decisions when they have the option of a later start time I encourage them to take that. I also encourage them to practice good sleep hygiene for the young people, having a bedtime routine kind of like we do for the little one."