To Sleep, or Not To Sleep

Sleep deprivation continues to sweep classrooms worldwide.

By Shamce Ahmad |Staff Writer|

A bill that would make California middle schools and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. is making it’s way through the legislature, gathering support from physicians yet opposition from California school boards.

California Senate Bill 328 was approved by the Senate Education Committee April 19, 2017, but has not been officially passed.

The bill entails a plan put forth by state Sen. Anthony Portantino to push back the class start times at all California middle and high schools to at least 8:30 a.m.

The opponents of the bill are the California Teachers Association, which is the state’s largest professional employee union, and the California School Boards Association.

Portantino cited that the ability to learn and succeed increases with more time to sleep, saying that “the science and research are clear: our kids will do better if we start the day later.”

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) is in agreement with the bill as well. In a 2014 policy statement update, referring to a move to an 8:30 a.m. start time, they mentioned that “doing so will align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty.”

Former high school student Nick Purcoraiou said that, looking back on it, he thinks it could definitely help students in the long run.

“I wish we got to go to school at 8:30 a.m., because it would have made getting enough sleep a lot easier,” said Purcoraiou. “Especially for those students who have busier schedules that extra hour can make a big difference,” he added.

A National Sleep Foundation poll found that 87 percent of high schoolers in the U.S. were getting less than the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night.

Pediatrician Dr. Judith Owens said, “chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today.”

Current Redlands High School senior, Caden Miller, says that he agrees that students need more sleep, but thinks there is an easier solution for it.

“Just go to sleep earlier,” says Miller. “Making a proper bed time and sleep schedule not only increases the amount of sleep we get but also sets us up to have better organization later in life,” he added.

Sen. Portantino also argues that Senate Bill 328 will also add funding to school districts far and wide, which ties directly to student attendance.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, stated that a 1 percent rise in student attendance could lead to up to $40 million in added funding being brought into their district alone.

The bill looks to make its way through legislation quickly to be passed for the upcoming school year, as the effects on the students could be very beneficial.

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