Published: Aug 27, 2014 3:36 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 27, 2014 6:52 PM EDT

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.- A lack of sleep could mean trouble in school to teens, according to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The study says high schools across America are starting too early.

WINK News woke up with southwest Florida high schoolers to find out if local school systems could soon heed doctors' orders.

In Charlotte County, high schoolers show up before the sun.

First period starts at 7:25 a.m., the latest high school start time in southwest Florida.

"Some mornings, it's harder than others to wake up," said TJ Maddock, a junior at Port Charotte High School.

"A lot of kids -- especially me -- are really tired in the morning," said Mark Schelm, a Port Charlotte sophomore.  "First and second period are really blah, and I'm not really focused as much."

A lack of focus is not the only issue linked to teens waking up too early.  The AAP study reveals that not enough sleep could lead to poor attendance in school; poor memory, organization and time management skills; and lower grades.

"The research is pretty clear that kids function better if they get a chance to sleep in a little bit more," said Dr. Doug Whittaker, superintendent of Charlotte County Schools.

The AAP study recommends an 8:30 a.m. start time, but Whittaker said that likely won't happen in Florida.

Whittaker said the state pays for 40% of transportation costs, and it would be too expensive to bus every student to school at the same time.

In 2001, Lee County Schools tried switching elementary and high school start times, so the teens could sleep later.  Whittaker worked for Lee County Schools at the time, and said the modified schedule didn't work well.

"The parents just went absolutely crazy, having their five-year-olds out on dark street corners at 6:00 in the morning to be picked up," Whittaker said.  "Three board members were voted out, the superintendent was removed and they went back to the tradtional high school starts early time."

Whittaker says students need to be responsible for getting enough rest.

"They're going to need to go to sleep earlier if they have to get up at 5 or 5:30 in the morning," he said.

The AAP recommends teens get between 8 1/2 and 9 1/2 hours of sleep per night.