To: The California State House, The California State Senate, and Governor Gavin Newsom
Support California legislation for healthy middle and high school start times.
Adolescents who start school too early in the morning face significant health and academic risks. The single best way to address this is to start middle and high schools at 8:30 a.m. or later, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and other major public health groups.
Why is this important?
The research is clear: adolescent sleep deprivation is directly linked to increased rates of depression, suicide ideation, drug and alcohol use, and car accidents. Sleep deprivation also undermines academic performance and increases tardies, absences and behavioral issues at school. And teen athletes who get inadequate sleep are more likely to get injured.
The circadian rhythm shift of adolescence makes it difficult for the vast majority of teens to fall asleep early. When combined with too-early school start times, the result is sleep deprivation. As noted above, a start time of 8:30 a.m. or later has been shown to be the single best way to address this.
To a large extent, school start times have been dictated by external factors such as bus schedules, and were established before researchers had identified the numerous risks of developmentally misaligned school hours.
Healthy school start times are a public health issue and an academic issue. In California, only 21% of the state’s public middle and high schools meet the 8:30 a.m. healthy start time guideline – many start before 7:30 a.m., with students needing to wake at 6 a.m. or even earlier! We need to implement healthy start times for all of the 3-million-plus students in our public middle and high schools – not just those in districts willing to make the change of their own accord.
For more information, visit startschoollater.net or join our Facebook page, Start School Later California.