AMA Joins the Call for Later School Start Times

8:30 AM should be earliest time for middle and high schools

Posted Jun 17, 2016 free clipart
Source: free clipart

On June 14, 2016, the American Medical Association at their annual meeting in Chicago adopted a policy calling upon U.S. school districts to start middle and high schools no earlier than 8:30 AM. 

AMA Board member William E. Kobler, M.D. was quoted as saying, "Sleep deprivation is a growing public health issue affecting our nation's adolescents, putting them at risk for mental, physical and emotional distress and disorders. Scientific evidence strongly suggests that allowing adolescents more time for sleep at the appropriate hours results in improvements in health, academic performance, behavior, and general well-being. We believe delaying school start times will help ensure middle and high school students get enough sleep, and that it will improve the overall mental and physical health of our nation's young people. While implementing a delayed school start time can be an emotional and potentially stressful issue for school districts, families, and members of the community, the health benefits for adolescents far outweigh any potential negative consequences.”

This action by the nation’s leading medical organization provides strong support for the grass roots efforts of Start School Later, a nonprofit organization that is a coalition of health professionals, sleep scientists, educators, parents, students, and other concerned citizens dedicated to increasing public awareness about the relationship between sleep and school hours and to ensuring school start times compatible with health, safety, education, and equity. 

The recommendation is in line with opinions of pediatric sleep researchers, including myself.  AMA’s policy is a welcome addition to those of the organizations that have called for later school start times, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.