Many school corporations welcome students into the 2017-2018 school year this week which means students’ sleep schedules will be changing. Nearly 8 in 10 Indiana high school students sleep less than the recommended eight hours on school nights.
According to Pediatric Sleep Specialist Dr. Sarah Honaker, a change in internal body clocks makes it difficult for many teens to fall asleep before 11 p.m. or midnight. Decreased sleep associated with rising early and later bedtimes can lead to dangerous consequences.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states potential risks of adolescent chronic sleep loss include depressed mood, behavior and learning problems, poor impulse control, and academic performance deficits. Research also links insufficient teen sleep with increased risk of fall-asleep car crashes, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and an increased risk of self-harm, including suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Several Indiana school districts have shifted to later start times, with more districts making the move this fall. In
Starke County, start times ranged from 7:20 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Parents are encouraged to set child limits on caffeine, reduce or eliminate late-night “screen time,” encourage regular exercise and incorporate at least 30 minutes of downtime before bed. Dr. Honaker says letting teens sleep-in on the weekends can be helpful, but cautions against varying weekday and weekend sleep patterns by more than two hours.