Lofgren introduces legislation to examine school start times

September 30, 2014
Press Release
SAN JOSE, CA – New legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D- Calif.) this month would determine the relationship between school start times and adolescent health, well-being and performance. The bill, to direct a Department of Education Study on the issue, comes on the heels of mounting evidence that adolescent students would greatly benefit from later start times.

Research has increasingly shown that the natural biological sleep pattern of many adolescents is to go to sleep and wake up at later times. However, many of these students must wake up well before the sun rises to get ready for school, as many high schools in the United States start before 7:30 am. Lofgren has long supported and advocated for a later school start time, first introducing the Zzz's to A's Act in 1998, with subsequent versions throughout the past decade and a half. The latest Zzz's to A's Act (H.R. 5678), supported by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), directs the Secretary of Education to study the effects of later start times on secondary school students and submit findings and recommendations to Congress.

"Students across the United States are not getting enough sleep at night – this affects not just their academic performance, but their health, safety, and well-being," said Lofgren. "We know that as kids become teens their biology keeps them from getting to sleep early, makes it harder for them to wake up early in the morning, and necessitates additional sleep at night. As I have long advocated, and as the American Academy of Pediatrics recently confirmed, adjusting school start times can be an important tool to improve students' health and performance. This study will help local school districts recognize and use new information about the importance of sufficient sleep and the impact that school start times can have on adolescent well-being."

"The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) commends U.S. Representative Lofgren for her leadership on this effort," said David Cloud, National Sleep Foundation CEO. "The sleep health and science communities have long recognized that our nation's teens are sleep deprived. School start times should allow students the sleep that they need; adequate sleep is vital to our student's performance, health and well-being. The NSF encourages public and legislative support of Rep. Lofgren's bill, it is a step in the right direction."

Just last month, a new policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics concurred that delaying the start of school days may help teens get more rest and improve overall adolescent well-being, calling it "one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today."

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