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article imageCalifornia takes a data-led stance for later school start times

By Tim Sandle     Oct 16, 2019 in Health
There is news that California has become the first state to mandate later school start times. Effective 2022, the law will prohibit middle schools from starting before 08:00 and high schools before 08:30. This is based on a data assessment.
The proposed change to school start times is seen as is especially important due to the fact that teenagers experience a biological shift towards later bedtimes, as reported in the LA Times. When required to wake early for school, many teenagers do not get the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep, which The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states is required.
According to a 2014 study by the CDC, 93 percent of U.S. high schools and 83 percent of middle schools start before 08:30 hours. This creates a conundrum.
According to internal data from the manufacturers of the sleep tracking app Sleep Cycle (provided to Digital Journal), which looked at the sleeping habits of around 100,000 American teenagers for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school year, teenagers log an average of 7:14 minutes on school nights, going to bed around 23:45 hours and waking at 07: 04 hours. (On the weekends they are getting to bed later — around 00:30 hours — but they’re also sleeping in past 08:30 hours, bringing the average sleep time up to about 8 hours).
According to the CDC, teens who do not get enough sleep are more likely to:
Be overweight,
Not get enough exercise,
Suffer from depression,
Get bad grades,
Engage in unhealthy behaviors like drinking, smoking, and drug use,
Experience mood problems, including suicide thoughts.
There is also a correlation between lack of sleep and mood problems, including suicidality. According to Sleep Cycle Institute expert Dr. Catherine Darley, in a message sent to Digital Journal: "Sleep is needed for both the formation of memories and their retrieval, so getting the right amount of sleep each night matters.”
On this basis, it would appear that the proposed reforms for schools in California will contribute to the health and welfare of teenage school goers.
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