Let the kids sleep: California requires later start time for high schools

California just became the first state to require most middle and high schools to start later in the morning.

The move is to keep in line with research showing that teenagers benefit academically and in other ways when they have had adequate sleep.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation Sunday (Oct 13) that would, over a three-year period, phase in a change in start times so middle schools could not begin earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Some rural schools are exempt, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Newsom said in a statement that the legislation jibes with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California Governor Gavin Newsom

Newsom pointed out the following:

  • The science shows that teenage students who start their day later increase their academic performance, attendance, and overall health.
  • Sleep experts say teens have unique biological sleep patterns that make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m.
  • That they need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function at their best.
  • The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2017 showed that nearly 75 per cent of US high school students were getting less than eight hours of sleep on school nights, and as a result, many miss breakfast and fall asleep at their desks during the school day.
  • Experts say lack of sleep increases the risk of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and motor vehicle accidents among teens.
  • Research shows students who get enough sleep are less likely to be late and absent from school, and more likely to be alert and get better grades.