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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Sad, sleepy teens: Will starting school later improve mental health?

Worried about the teen mental health crisis, nine states and a number of major cities are considering mandating later start times for middle and high schools to help adolescents get more sleep, reports AP's Brooke Schultz.

Photo: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

California's later-start law, the first of its kind nationwide, went into effect in the fall. Middle schools now start no earlier than 8 am and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Educators hope to lessen sleep deprivation and stress, writes Sharon Brandwein on Sleepopolis.

Seattle changed start times years ago, she writes. A study showed that high school students got 34 additional minutes of sleep each night, boosting sleep time to seven hours and 24 minutes. Attendance and grades improved.

Sleep cycles change as children hit their teens, says Lisa L. Lewis, author of The Sleep-Deprived Teen. Most don't feel sleepy until about 11 p.m., yet need 8 to 10 hours of sleep. "When schools start too early in the morning – as early as 7 a.m., in some cases – it can make it virtually impossible for them to be able to get the amount of sleep they need.”

Teens may get to school at 7:30 am, but "their brain is actually completely asleep," says Dr. Shelby Harris, Sleepopolis’ director of sleep health.

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