California delayed school start times so students can get more sleep

Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California (Justin Sullivan/)

The law was approved in 2019 but is only now coming into force. California students will serve as an empirical test to determine whether the theory that students do better if classes start later is true.

Under this state law, middle school students cannot enter class before 8 a.m., while those going to high school cannot enter class before 8:30 a.m.. Until last school year, which ended last June, students used to enter California schools at 7:30 in the morning. It is estimated that There are about 2.6 million students whose schedules change in this new school year.

For decades some teachers and health professionals have insisted on the need for classes to start later in order to give young people the possibility of getting more sleep. It is known that in adolescence the tendency is to stay up late at night, and to enter at 7:30 in the morning, students must wake up very early. There are studies showing the havoc that lack of sleep causes in adolescents, making them more prone to depression and psychological illnesses.

1 in 3 people suffer from insomnia and 50% of people have stress problems Shutterstock 162
1 in 3 people suffer from insomnia and 50% of people have stress problems Shutterstock 162

“There are countless studies that prove over and over again that teens sleep more if school starts later. The benefits that this brings for your physical and mental health, as well as for academic performance, are enormous.. I’m not saying it, this is proven in research. Student athletes perform better and have fewer injuries. In general, all students have more time to eat breakfast, and teachers indicate that they find them more smiling and attentive in the first hours of class”, he indicated Elinore Bokespokesperson for the NGO Start School Later (Start School Later) who collaborated with California lawmakers to write the law.

Logically, by entering later the students also leave classes later. Instead of being dismissed at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, as it used to be, most California schools will now dismiss between 4 and 4:30 in the afternoon.

The law had opposition from teachers’ unions and school districtswho indicated that they were concerned about how this change would affect family dynamics and extracurricular activities, such as sports training, which usually take place in the afternoon. In addition, they asked that it be considered that there are students who work in the afternoons.

An early version of the law passed in 2018, but was vetoed by then-Governor Jerry Brown. But in 2019, the law was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, since the law came with the support of the state PTAs (Parents and Teachers Associations, for its acronym in English).

Keep reading:

Teenagers and sleep: what are the consequences of little sleep

Little and bad sleep: 5 negative health effects of lack of sleep

Teens Like Owls: Why They Need More Sleep and Their Brains Work Better at Night