GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — California will soon become the first state in the nation to require schools to push back start times, in an attempt to help academic performance by giving kids more time to sleep.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law Sunday, which mandates that high schools can't start classes before 8:30 a.m. and middle schools can't begin before 8 a.m.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended middle and high schools should start at 8:30 a.m. or later to give students the sleep they need. A 2014 CDC study found that 83% of middle schools and 93% of high schools start before 8:30 a.m.
Dr. Adelle Cadieux, Pediatric Psychologist at Spectrum Health told 13 ON YOUR SIDE that as children grow into teens, their sleeping habits start to shift.
"One of the things that happens with teens is that, as they enter puberty, they actually go through a phase where they begin needing to fall asleep a little bit later. Their body’s just not ready for sleep as early, and because they’re also needing to wake up later in order to get that 8.5 to 9.5 hours that their body requires," Cadieux said.
Cadieux explained that when teens get enough sleep, they're likely to have better focus and memory control, which can help them to do better in school.
"When we don’t get adequate sleep, we’re more likely to respond emotionally or with a behavior that’s not typical when we’re having good sleep," she added.
Pediatric research shows that teens who don't get enough sleep also have a greater risk of developing obesity and type two diabetes.
Cadieux said pushing class times back in the morning could also help teen accident statistics on the road.
"Having later start times, decreases accidents in our teens…because of these early start times, our teens are driving to school earlier; they’re driving sleepy," she explained.
Cadieux said other schools who have tried this approach have seen success. However, she acknowledged it would take time and planning before other schools nationwide could jump on board.
"There are so many factors around why our school starts at an early, but just making that little adjustment changes a lot of things for a school. I think we really need to take into consideration all of those factors and really help our students, but also our schools, make adjustments for the best outcome," she said.
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