Students in California can officially hit the snooze button a few more times. Lawmakers voted on Aug. 31 to ban middle and high schools from starting before 8:30 a.m. in a effort to improve students' graduation rates and overall health. The bill, which is referred to as SB328, just passed before the state legislature before its midnight deadline. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign off on the new law, meaning that schools will have three years to comply.
This is a pretty big deal for students in middle school and high school. According to research from Harvard Medical School, teens who don't get enough sleep "are at higher risk for depression and learning problems, and are more likely to get into car accidents and other accidents."
"The cost of sleep loss is astronomical. It's costing billions of dollars."
Experts agree that simply having students start later can make a world of difference: "That delayed school start time could have a big impact on middle school children and adolescents," sleep expert Dr. Carol Ash told CBS. "When they don't get the sleep they need, it can cause poor academic performance, drowsy driving depression, loneliness, social isolation, addictive behaviours and weight gain, obesity, and hypertension. So it has a significant health and mental impact on your children."
Kids get to bed later than ever due to a heightened use of technology — we're looking at you, cell phones and tablets! — as well as an increased amount of time spent at extracurricular activities. This information, combined with the fact that more than 80 percent of California schools start before 8:30 a.m., makes it a good guinea pig for a universal later start.
Another added bonus of a late start? Schools may actually save money in the long run.
"The cost of sleep loss is astronomical. It's costing billions of dollars," explained Dr. Ash. "Poor academic performance, absenteeism at school — and federally funded dollars are attached to the absenteeism rate. So if kids are not showing up in school, they're gonna get less dollars."