Lofgren introduces ZZZ’s to A’s Act to examine school start times

April 28, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D- Calif.) introduced the ZZZ's to A's Act today to examine the relationship between school start times and adolescent health, well-being and performance.

Introduced during Sleep Awareness week, an annual public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep – the bill comes on the heels of mounting evidence that delayed school days help reduce tardiness, improve attendance, performance, and boost driving safety.

"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 as early, which can make it harder for them to wake up early in the morning. This legislation 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 health and performance."

Research has 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 ZZZ's to A's Act of 2017, endorsed by the National Sleep Foundation, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and Start School Later, directs the Secretary of Education to study the effects of later start times on secondary school students and submit findings and recommendations to Congress.

  • An American Academy of Pediatrics position statement published in 2014 recognized "insufficient sleep in adolescents as a public health issue," and advised that "middle and high schools should aim for a starting time of no earlier than 8:30 am." 
  • The American Medical Association concurred in 2016, noting that while "a delayed school start time can be an emotional and potentially stressful issue for school districts, families, and members of the community, the health benefits for adolescents far outweigh any potential negative consequences."
  • The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, issuing a position statement in the April 2017 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, asserts that it, too, supports the no-earlier-than 8:30 am standard, explaining that"early school start times make it difficult for adolescents to get sufficient sleep on school nights, and chronic sleep loss among teens is associated with host of problems, including poor school performance, increased depressive symptoms, and motor vehicle accidents."

Original cosponsors of the ZZZ's to A's Act include U.S. Reps. Yvette Clark (D-N.Y.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), Gwen S. Moore (D-Wis.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), and Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.).

Full bill text can be found here.