California Passes Sleep Friendly Law for Schools

By: Adam Landstein (Correspondent)

Every morning during the week, high schoolers wake up early to get to school which starts between 7:45 and 8:00 am, however, that will be changing in California.

California lawmakers have passed a bill mandating that middle schools may not start until 8:00 am and high schools cannot start until 8:30 am. The new law, aimed at the sleep epidemic that most teenagers encounter, is effective in some schools already and will be implemented into all public schools as soon as their CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) expires. 

School Counselor Mr. Geoffrey Baltera says later school times would help students get more sleep at night. “A later start would lead to better-rested students, who’d be more excited and able to engage with whatever was happening at school the next day. Whether it was class [or] their assignments,” Baltera said.

Across the country, students head to school tired after short nights of rest. The average high schooler goes to bed at 11:00 pm or later, causing them to pay the price the next morning. 

Many medical studies done by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the American Medical Association recommend that schools start later due to the way that the teenage body functions. Teens feel tired later at night, so they tend to stay awake and not let their bodies recover from the day’s work.

Pediatric sleep specialist at Stanford Children’s Health Center, Dr. Maryanne Tablizo, says that teens should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep every night. However, poor bedtime habits and changes in circadian rhythms influence the duration of sleep, only allowing teenagers to obtain 7 hours. 

Although this law in California will help students sleep more, late starts in school will prompt the school day to end later. This means that after school sports or other extra-curricular activities would be pushed back later.

“I think that late starts could be pretty problematic, especially for sports,” said Baltera.

“When teams have to travel to towns that are farther away, they’re trying to play JV, Varsity, and Freshmen games all in a row on limited fields. That could take 3-4 hours, and if [we were to push that back], especially in the northeast it gets dark super early during most of the sports season,” Baltera added.

Only 1 in 4 high school students receive over 8 hours of sleep. With an increase in sleep, California students should be more productive, involved in their work, and maintain better well-being. 

Junior Cole King says he would benefit from extra sleep if school started later. “I know that personally when I’m in class throughout the day I get very tired and sometimes I’m not in the mood to do my school work, so I complete things later.” 

“This is the case because I have to stay up late doing homework so then I have to wake up nice and early to catch my bus,” King said.

While some students believe they would benefit from the extra sleep, Junior Bradley Corn is completely fine with how school starts now. “I get about 8 hours of sleep on an average night, and I feel as though I can perform at the highest level [in school],” Corn said.

Interim Principal Mr. Olsen also shares some of his thoughts. “Scientific learning does prove that high schoolers would benefit from coming in later, but we are already pretty close to that later time [of schools which start later],” Olsen said.

If Sharon Public Schools started later the times could either have a substantial impact or no impact at all. 

“Most of the students I see are staying up until twelve or even later working on school stuff. So if they’re getting home that much later, then it’s going to push back when they’re going to sleep. Starting later is great, but we’re [just] moving time around and not resolving the issue: too much stuff in too little time,” Baltera concluded. 

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