Time to hit the snooze button on school start times?

The new school year in Warrenton, Virginia, means an early start time for 16-year-old Kaiya Olsen. Classes for her begin at 7:30 a.m.

"We all showed up for school on the first day and all complained about how tired we were as soon as we walked in the door," says Olsen.

Only 13 percent of high school students get the optimal amount of sleep, that's eight-and-a-half to nine-and-a-half hours. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes this contributes to obesity, high blood pressure, and depression.


Dr. Judith Owens is the lead author of the policy statement. "Getting less sleep is associated with poor grades, with lower performance on standardized tests ... So across the board we see a whole host of negative consequences," explains Dr. Owens.

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Dr. Judith Owens
CBS News
The advisory panel suggests middle and high schools start their day no earlier than 8:30 a.m. It's estimated only 15 percent of high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later. Forty percent start earlier than 8 a.m.

Olsen was asked to keep a video diary, documenting her struggles to get to sleep and wake up.

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Kaiya Olsen
CBS News
"It's 6 a.m. and I just got up after hitting my snooze button three times," Olsen says in the diary.

"I'm only going to go to school with six, maybe five hours of sleep," she told CBS News. "And I'm not ready to learn and take tests and everything cause I'm so tired. ... And that stresses me out 'cause I want good grades but I'm tired."

Olsen's mother, Judy, believes changing start times would also change attitudes. "Every morning this week, she said to me I hate school, I don't want to go to school. I don't think its school they hate. I think they hate getting up and getting out the door before 7 o'clock in the morning."

During adolescence, changes in the biological clock naturally make kids go to bed later. And other factors can also delay bedtime: light from screens may inhibit a sleep promoting hormone called melatonin. So one other recommendation was a curfew on using electronic devices.

  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook

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