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Schools Should Start Later to Prevent Accidents, Depression, Scientists Say

Adequate sleep is necessary for anyone to function normally in day-to-day life, but according to a new position statement by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, teenagers have unique sleep needs. As reported by USA Today, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that teens’ school days are interfering with their biological programming. With school starting times before 8:30 a.m., teens’ sleep deprivation contributes to poor school performance, mental health issues and other problems.

It’s true that teens need regular sleep patterns and good, solid, refreshing sleep. But before we delve into whether or not to change school times, this might be a good time to look at other things that cause poor sleep, such as overuse of electronic media. Studies show that U.S. teens spend about nine hours daily using media — and this only includes for entertainment purposes.

Besides the social and emotional implications of teens spending so much time on their computers or smartphones, it’s a known fact that overall social media use, and especially nighttime use, is associated with poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem, and higher levels of anxiety and depression among 12- to 18-year-olds.

Since banning your child from electronic media is probably not an option, one thing you can do is establish an "electronic curfew" to prevent computer and social media usage from interfering with quality sleep. And, consider setting device-free bedtimes that factor in the amount of sleep your child should have. For teens aged 14 to 17, I recommend eight to 10 hours of sleep a night. School-age children (ages 6 to 13) should have nine to 11 hours each night.
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