COMMENTARY: Sensible solution to adolescent sleep deprivation


Adolescent sleep deprivation is a very serious health and school problem for adolescent students in our state’s middle and high schools. A long list of research study reports, professional publications and articles are readily available online that thoroughly informs us about this destructive problem we need to correct before the beginning of our 2016/2017 school year.

This valuable published information can be easily obtained by accessing Adolescent Sleep Deprivation and use the same heading in the book section of companies like

This important information includes research study results and reform recommendations from professional sources that include the following: American Pediatric Academy; American Association of School Psychologists; American Psychological Association; and American Psychiatric Association.

These and other research findings inform us of a long list of reasons we need to have a school start time for our adolescent students so they can get from 8½ to 9½ hours of needed sleep each night. Their findings show that no matter what time our adolescents go to bed, they don’t get to sleep before 11 p.m.

This means school start time for them should be no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and preferably 9 a.m. School districts and schools who have made these no-cost, later school start times have found this change did not interfere with student’s extra-curricular activities after school such as participation in athletic sports and part-time jobs.

Those school districts and schools that changed to a later start time for middle and high school adolescents found the health and school problems caused by sleep deprivation were eliminated or significantly reduced.

The following are some of these serious health and school problems: Panic and anxiety attacks; depression; becoming overweight; more automobile accidents; thoughts of suicide and suicides; being drowsy and falling asleep in class; lack of concentration and staying on learning tasks; and poor and failing school grades. Some students are so tramatized they are forced to be schooled at home and take psychotrophic drugs like Prozac.

Our Delaware elected and appointed state and local school district education decision-makers should put priority on arranging for proper school start times for our adolescent students beginning with the 2016/2017 school year.

Parents, grandparents and other family members of our state’s adolescent middle and high school students should become informed about this serious health and school problem and insist our education decision-makers make this sensible, no-cost change in school start time. Our schools are for the benefit of our children and youth who are 100 percent of our state and nation’s future.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Floyd E. McDowell Sr., of Bear is chairman of the nonprofit, nonpartisan website. He can be reached at (302) 832-2799 or via email at

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