Study: Starting School Later May Reduce Instances of Intense Headaches in Teens

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A new study by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), found that teenagers who start school at a later time experience fewer migraines. According to research, teenagers’ body clocks naturally lean towards sleeping and waking up late. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises middle and high schools to start classes at 8:30 a.m. or later. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that only 18% of public schools in the United States actually follow this recommendation. To test if school start times have an impact on teenagers’ migraines, the researchers surveyed more than 1,000 high school students who experience the condition. About half of the participants started school before 8:30 a.m. The remaining half started school later. Results showed that students who started school earlier than 8:30 a.m. had an average of 7.7 days with migraines every month, while students with a later start time had an average of only 4.8 days with migraines a month. After taking into account factors like gender, use of migraine medication, and amount of homework, the researchers found that participants whose schools start later still experience fewer migraine attacks compared to those with early school schedules. The researchers also found that students who start school later slept for an average of 7.9 hours every night, while students who start school early spent only an average of 6.9 hours sleeping. To prevent migraines from recurring, the study’s lead author recommends getting enough sleep and observing consistent sleeping schedules. She said that if their study’s findings can be further confirmed in the future, middle and high schools should start later in the morning to reduce migraine attacks in teenagers and prevent them from missing school.

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