A La Crosse Tribune report examines the benefits as well as the disadvantages of later school start times.

Dr. Ivy Andersen, a Gundersen Health System sleep medicine specialist said that a person’s sleep periods change as they age. Younger children naturally tend to wake up earlier, but that shifts as a child enters puberty. Most teenagers gravitate to a late evening bed-time and a late morning wake-time.

In general, it is recommended that middle school students get nine to 10 hours of sleep per night, she said, and high school students need about eight to nine hours of sleep a night. High school students are only averaging about 6 hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Data show students have better attendance and better performance with later start times, said Dr. Charles Peters, a Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare pediatrician. Test scores are better, and tardiness declines, Peters said. There is also less depression, childhood obesity and substance abuse.

“They are just not ready to be performing at their academic best,” Dr. Peters said about early school days. “Everything is a little later for adolescents. They fall asleep later and become well-rested later in the morning.”

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