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Research suggests that teens who start school later experience numerous significant physical and emotional benefits. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teens should not start the school day before 8:30 a.m. for optimum mental and physical well-being. Numerous other researchers recommend the later start day so as to avoid car accidents.
Teens are known for sleeping – a lot. But they may be getting a bad rap. Teens are not being lazy or irresponsible by sleeping in often. Teens experience biological shifts in their sleeping patterns during adolescence, making them more likely to stay up later and sleep in longer. The demands of school, jobs, sports, and social connections also keep teens from getting the valuable sleep their changing minds and bodies need.
Significant physical and emotional changes take place during the teen years, all fueled and sustained by sleep. Teens aged 13 – 18 need eight to 10 hours of sleep every night, but most are not getting nearly enough. The National Sleep Foundation reports that only 15 percent of teens report getting at least eight and a half hours of sleep on school nights.
According to a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, around one in four high school students say they have fallen asleep in class. If they cannot stay awake, how can they excel? Lack of sleep directly affects a person’s ability to concentrate, react, and make decisions. Teens are not prepared to perform their best in the classroom and the sports field without enough sleep. Emotionally, sleep-deprived teens are more prone to emotional issues like sadness and depression.
There are serious safety concerns for teens who do not sleep enough. Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents, and is considered just as dangerous as driving intoxicated. Drowsy driving causes thousands of car accidents in Delaware every year. Half of teens surveyed by the National Sleep Foundation said they have driven drowsy in the past year. Fifteen percent said they drive drowsy once a week.
Any person that is not well-rested is more prone to accidents and injuries. When you add in inexperienced teen drivers, the risk of motor vehicle accidents increases greatly. One study on the subject cited a 16.5 percent decrease in car accidents among teens that started school an hour later than the national average.
Teens are also more prone to making dangerous choices both because of changes in the brain in how they process risks and rewards, and because of the overwhelming peer pressure to which they are exposed. Without enough sleep, teens are more inclined to make poor choices.
Based on all of the information available about how crucial sleep is to a teen’s health and well-being, many experts recommend starting the school day later. Starting the day before 8:30 a.m. prevents teens from getting all of the sleep they need to function at their best, which could result in car accidents while these new drivers make their commute to school.
Drowsy drivers cause countless accidents on roads across the country every year. If you or a loved one has been injured by another’s negligence, contact the Wilmington car accident lawyers at the law firm of Rhoades & Morrow at 302-427-9500. You can also complete our simple online contact form. Bear wrongful death lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow handle all personal injury and work injury cases throughout Delaware, including Wilmington, Hockessin, Newark, Glasgow, Bear, Middletown, Smyrna, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Georgetown, and Seaford, as well as any other community in New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County.