This past Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that requires high school and middle school classes to start later. The new law makes middle schools start at 8 a.m. or later and makes high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.. However, optional early classes will still be available for students who want to fit another class into their schedule. The change will go into effect by July 1, 2022.
Several health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Medical Association have said that a later start time for schools would make it easier for students to pay attention and remember information. Sleep deprivation causes problems with behavior and attention. However, according to a CDC study in 2015, the average start time for middle and high schools was 8:03 a.m with some starting much earlier.
The recommended amount of sleep for teenagers is eight to ten hours of sleep each night. Only one out of four high school students get this much, according to the CDC.
Freshman Molly Norton says she sleeps six to seven hours each night.
“I always get home from dance late and then I have homework to do,” Norton said.
In addition to spending all their time at school and doing extracurricular activities, teens get less sleep because they fall asleep later in the night. Due to shifts in their body’s rhythms as they get older, teens become sleepy later and wake up later. It is harder for teens to fall asleep earlier in the night and wake up early. This bill makes it possible for teens to get enough sleep even though they can’t fall asleep early.
“ I believe that it will make grades go up because students who are staying up later will be able to get an adequate amount of sleep,” freshman Katelyn McAdam-Rusk said.
This new legislature can help high schoolers maintain better grades and live a healthier lifestyle. Kids who don’t get enough sleep are at a great risk of car accidents, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. There is also a higher chance that they will engage in self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts. Forcing schools to give teenagers more time to sleep in the mornings can help them to learn better and gives them time to take care of their minds and bodies.