One more hour please

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), students who have later start times get five more hours a week of sleep (Facts, n.d.). That is 1 more hour a day! A congressional resolution for reconsidering school start times was presented by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) called “ZZZ’s to A’s” or H.C. Res. 135 back in April 2, 1999 (Start Time and Sleep, n.d.). Lofgren argued that students are not getting enough sleep, which is resulting in more students being sleep deprived (Start Time and Sleep, n.d.). Lofgren tried making efforts to pass the H.R. 1306 (114th ): ZZZ’s to A’s Act again in 2015. She reintroduced the bill back on April 28, 2017, but according to the status of the bill on the www.govtrack.us website it “died in a previous congress”(GovTrack.us, 2019).

The goal of Lofgren’s congressional resolution was to “encourage individual schools and school districts all over the country to move school start times to no earlier than 8:30 A.M.” (Congresswoman, 2003). Even though Lofgren’s bill was not passed, there has been a huge amount of feedback from school districts all across the nation who have been pushing back their start times (Congresswoman, 2003). Lofgren created the bill in 1999, however only four years later “34 school districts across 19 states have pushed school start times, and the research has led almost 100 additional school district changes” (Congresswoman, 2003). Lofgren encourages school’s to look at current research when deciding on altering their schools start times.

There are many outcomes of pushing back a schools start time, which include a decrease in students falling asleep in class, a great improvement in reaction time, and a decrease in tardiness (Minges & Redeker, 2015). Minges and Redeker (2015) found existing evidence that a student’s overall health, academic performance, classroom engagement, sleep duration, and a reduction in caffeine usage and depression will improve as well. In order for teens to preform there very best, they need to get the correct amount of sleep. What is the correct amount? The NSF suggests that teens should get about 8 to 10 hours of sleep everyday (Facts, n.d.). Students who slept less are more prone to feeling nervous, unhappy, tense, and are worried about too many things (Facts, n.d.).

            Fast forward to today, still not every school district has pushed back the start times as Lofgren had hoped. An advocacy group named “Start School Later” was created by students, sleep scientists, concerned citizens, educators, and healthcare professionals (About, n.d.). These individuals are dedicated to increase the public’s awareness on school start times, while also making sure they are compatible with an individuals “health, safety, education, and equity” (About, n.d.). This organization advocates for the push of school start times in legislation at local, national, and state levels (About, n.d.). Their webpage has a comprehensive list of various bills categorized by state that have or have not been successful. According to the State School Later webpage on legislation, at least 14 states have introduced a bill related to school hours. To view these clearer, please do so here. https://www.startschoollater.net/legislation.html Out of the 14 bills, only 4 have been state successes. One certification program in particular from the state of Maryland recognizes the school districts who implement the push in school start times by an Orange Ribbon for Healthy School Hours certification. This is how the school districts makes sure they are staying “consistent with the hours recommended by the Maryland Department of Education and specified organization” (Legislation, n.d.). This is a great way for parents, educators, and concerned citizens alike to make sure their school district is following the correct protocols for the start time pushbacks.

Now that you’re more informed on the legislation for school start times in the U.S., what are you going to do about it? Are you going to join an advocacy group to help promote the bills toward legislation or are you going to let this topic sit on the back burner? The choice is yours.

References

About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.startschoollater.net/about-us.html

Congresswoman Lofgren Urges Congress to ‘Wake-Up’ to the Problems of Adolescents Not Getting Enough. (2003). Retrieved from https://lofgren.house.gov/media/press-releases/congresswoman-lofgren-urges-congress-wake-problems-adolescents-not-getting

Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/teens-and-sleep

GovTrack.us. (2019). H.R. 1306 — 114th Congress: ZZZ’s to A’s Act. Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr1306

Legislation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.startschoollater.net/legislation.html

Start time and Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/school-start-time-and-sleep

Minges, K. E., & Redeker, N. S. (2015;2016;). Delayed school start times and adolescent sleep: A systematic review of the experimental evidence. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 28, 82-91. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2015.06.002

 

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2 comments

  1. School start times should be moved to a later time in the morning. As you stated from the NSF, adolescents need to get between 8-10 hrs of sleep per night. This can be very detrimental for teens because their bodies are going through a lot changes at an increased pace during this time in their lives. “During puberty, adolescents become sleepy later at night and need to sleep later in the morning as a result in shifts in biological rhythms” (Schools Start Too Early | Features | CDC, 2018).
    When teens are in sports, the 8-10 hrs a night can be a hard goal to achieve. For an example, if a volleyball player’s game doesn’t start until 6 p.m., then they have to wait for varsity or junior varsity to play their game before they can travel back to the school. Once they get back to the school they will have travel home still. If they have homework they will need to work on it, even if it is already late. After they finish their homework the teenager might need to wind down and relax after a long day. All of these actions after a school day can take up a substantial amount of time, leading to a later bed time. As a result they will sacrifice sleep time.

    References:

    1. “Later School Start Times: Benefits & Cons.” National Sleep Foundation,
    http://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/backgrounder-later-school-start-times.

    2. “Schools Start Too Early | Features | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 July 2018,
    http://www.cdc.gov/features/school-start-times/index.html.

  2. Starting school even one hour later makes an incredible amount of sense; however, would it affect the hours of businesses? There should be a study conducted to further research this topic. I am all for supporting student success, but in order for this to become the norm in education, more information is needed. Starting school one hour later seems like it can help students succeed more in class. In my own experience I would have benefited more from an extra hour of sleep. The research on the importance of sleep is well known. Getting enough sleep can lead to more focus on learning difficult topics such as math. Students success should be at the top of our priority as a society, so why not investigate this further? Thank you for posting on such an important topic.

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