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Half of American teenagers don’t get enough sleep on school nights. They get an average of 60- 90 minutes less than they need, experts say.
One problem is biology. Teens are programmed to go to sleep later and wake up later than other age groups, but many schools start classes as early as 7:00 a.m.
Many students go to class feeling tired. One student, Danny, says that getting up in the morning is terrible. He feels tired. During his first classes of the day, it’s difficult to stay awake.
Michael Breus is a psychologist. He’s an expert in sleep problems. He says that teenagers need eight to ten hours of sleep a night. He feels that sleepy teens can become depressed. This can also affect their ability in sports and driving. Michael Breus says a tired driver, especially a tired teenage driver, is dangerous.
What can schools do? Psychologists say schools can start classes later in the morning. Studies show that students’ grades improved by starting classes later.
St. George’s School in Rhode Island wanted to try this. They started classes just thirty minutes later.
Visits to the health center by tired students decreased by half. Late arrivals to first period decreased by one/third. Students felt less sleepy during the day. The teachers also noticed that students were happier and more awake.