DARIEN, IL – The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) applauds California Governor Gavin Newsom, who on Oct. 13 signed into law Senate Bill No. 328, which will require that the school day begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m. for high schools and no earlier than 8 a.m. for middle schools in the state by 2022. As the first state in the nation to require later school start times for teens, California has set an important precedent that prioritizes teen sleep health.
“Every middle school and high school student should have the opportunity to start the school day alert and ready to learn, which is difficult when class begins too early in the morning,” said AASM President Dr. Kelly A. Carden. “While California’s law is encouraging, there is still work to be done on a national scale to help teenagers across the country benefit from later school start times.”
It is the position of the AASM that middle school and high school start times should be 8:30 a.m. or later to promote teen health, safety and academic performance. The AASM asserts that school start times of 8:30 a.m. or later support:
- An adequate opportunity for adolescents to obtain sufficient sleep on school nights
- Optimal alertness in the classroom environment to facilitate peak academic performance
- Reduced tardiness and school absences to foster improved opportunities for learning
- Adolescent mental health and psychological well-being
- Adolescent driving safety
The AASM recommends that teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health and daytime alertness during the critical transition from childhood to adulthood. However, in puberty a natural shift occurs in the timing of the body’s internal “circadian” clock, causing most teens to experience a biological drive for a late-night bedtime. Therefore, early middle school and high school start times make it difficult for teens to get sufficient sleep during the school week.
As a result, nearly 73 percent of high school students report getting fewer than 8 hours of sleep on an average school night. Insufficient sleep among teens is associated with an increased rate of risk-taking behaviors such as suicidal thoughts and attempts; tobacco, alcohol and drug use; and risky sexual behaviors.
California’s law supports a growing body of evidence indicating that later school start times for teens are associated with longer weekday sleep durations, less daytime sleepiness, and reduced motor vehicle accident rates. By establishing a healthy boundary for the beginning of the school day, the law promotes education and health equity for teens and helps level the playing field for all students in the state to succeed. The law requires compliance from middle schools and high schools by July 1, 2022.
The AASM appreciates the collaborative involvement of key stakeholders who advocated for SB 328, including the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Anthony Portantino; AASM members in California; the California Sleep Society; the California State PTA; and grassroots coalition Start School Later.
To arrange an interview with an AASM spokesperson, please contact the AASM media relations staff at 630-737-9700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) improves sleep health and promotes high quality, patient-centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. The AASM has a combined membership of 10,000 accredited member sleep centers and individual members, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals.