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Doctors' Group Recommends Later School Start Time

ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - Five-thirty can come early in the morning, especially if you're a teenager.

But that's when Martin High School freshman Ben Smith has to be up and packing his bags to get to football practice on time.

"I'll try to snooze my alarm as long as I can because I know I'll be kind of groggy," the Arlington teenager said.

Health experts recommend teenagers get nine hours of sleep.

That can be difficult when in many North Texas school districts classes start at 7:30am and often football practice and other extra-curricular activities take place before school.

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced it's recommending high schools and middle schools delay the start of class to 8:30 am or later. According to the AAP, the later school start will align school schedules to a teenager's natural biological sleep rhythms that shift the sleep-wake cycle up two hours later at the start of puberty.

Studies show teenagers who do not get enough sleep increase their risk of being obese, suffering depression, doing poorly in school, as well as being involved in an automobile accident.

"A lot of the attributes that we typically associate with teenagers – moodiness, irritability – those are the result of sleep deprivation and not just being a teenager," said Debbie Moore who heads up the local chapter of Start School Later, an non-profit organization that encourages school districts to push back class start times.

For the past two years, Moore, a mother of an Arlington teenage daughter, has led a local group of parents petitioning the Arlington Independent School District to push back the start time of the high schools to at least 8:00 am.  Currently in Arlington first period starts at 7:35 am.

But for many districts the issue is often complicated by bus schedules and budgets.

Dallas ISD, Frisco ISD, and Richardson ISD are among the handful of North Texas district where high school classes start at 9:00am or later.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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