This year, students in California will start class later than ever before. In response to research that shows later start times help increase school attendance, and boost a student’s academic performance, the state of California is requiring middle schools to start classes no earlier than 8:00 a.m., and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. starting the fall of 2022.
Teenagers require as much as 10 hours of sleep daily, in addition to shifts in their biological rhythms, which make them sleepy later in the day. “It’s kind of like asking an adult to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning,” Matthew Walker, a University of California, Berkeley, neuroscience professor, told NPR.
According to experts, chronic sleep deprivation among teenagers has been linked to worse academic performance, mental and physical health problems, substance abuse as well as drowsy driving. Because of the litany of public health risks, the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for the school to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., as even 60 extra minutes of sleep per night can have major benefits in staving off long-term health issues.
“The extra time to catch some z’s is something that will also help teens in the long run", experts say. “The effects of that one hour is something they will be feeling as 40-year-old adults,” Dr. Sumit Bhargava, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford University, told The New York Times. “When you give them the gift of increased sleep time, it is the biggest bang for the buck that you can think about."