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July 5, 2010

School Start Time and Sleepy Teens

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010;164(7):676-677. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.122

Ask any parent of a teenager about their child's sleep habits and you will likely hear stories about how difficult it is to get their son or daughter out of bed on school days. Most high schools in the United States begin the school day by 8 AM or earlier, with the corresponding rise time being about 75 to 90 minutes before that.1 This means that high school students generally arise between 5:45 AM and 6:30 AM to get dressed and get to school. These data provide an interesting contrast when one views what research on the sleep patterns of adolescents has revealed, namely that their biological preference for falling asleep is approximately 11 PM with their natural wake time at about 8 AM. However, knowing that teenagers are still in the zone of sleep when they are being forced to get up for school is small comfort when the battle to get one's child out of bed is inevitable and inescapable.

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