Sleepy teens, risky behavior

The issue of teens not getting enough sleep has been a highly discussed topic in recent years. In 2014 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement recommending middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later. According to the AAP, getting the appropriate amount of sleep helps teens improve physical and mental health, and has also been shown to improve academic performance, quality of life, and safety.

It is no surprise that getting enough sleep greatly reduces the risk of injury. It also reduces the risk of engaging in risky behaviors that could result in injury. In a recent article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found that students who sleep less than seven hours a night were more likely to report injury-related risk behaviors, such as not using a bicycle helmet or seatbelt and drinking and texting while driving.

In a 2015 NPCH Report we asked parents of children in middle or high school about the impact of later school start times for teens. Half of parents with teens whose schools started before 8:30 a.m. said they would support a school start time of 8:30 or later. 40% of parents believed their teens would get more sleep if school started at 8:30 a.m. or later, and 22% of parents said having a start time of 8:30 a.m. or later would not allow enough time for after school activities.

Figure 1. Parents' Perceptions of Impact of Later School Start Times for Teens

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What do you think?
Parents, do you think your teen is more likely to text and drive or not wear a seatbelt when they haven’t gotten enough sleep? Would you be in favor of later school start times for teens?  Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter @csmottpoll.