Parents—who dread school day mornings when they have to drag their sleepy tweens and teens out of bed—will be happy to hear that California has just voted to ban schools from starting before 8:30 a.m.

Even if you don’t live in the Golden State, the news that California lawmakers have passed a bill banning middle and high schools from starting before 8:30 a.m. could be a plus. While the bill still needs the signature of Governor Jerry Brown, who is expected to sign it, California’s early school start ban could pave the way for other states across the country to follow suit.

The idea behind the bill is to allow middle and high school students to get a little extra sleep in the morning. Experts believe that allowing kids to wake later and gain some extra minutes of sleep can improve their health and focus in school, leading to higher graduation rates and thus less money wasted by school districts.

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Research from Harvard Medical School has shown that for kids at this age, getting enough sleep can be crucial and getting an inadequate amount can lead to obesity, depression and developmental issues. According to Harvard, teens need at least eight to 10 hours of sleep per night, but with increases in homework loads and extra-curricular activities, most are simply not getting enough. In fact, some studies indicate that only 20 percent of kids ages 11 to 17 are getting enough sleep at night.

“That delayed school start time could have a big impact on middle school children and adolescents,” sleep expert Dr. Carol Ash told CBS News. “When they don’t get the sleep they need, it can cause poor academic performance, drowsy driving depression, loneliness, social isolation, addictive behaviors and weight gain, obesity and hypertension. So it has a significant health and mental impact on your children.”

Once the bill is signed into law, school districts in the state of California will have up to three years to implement the new policy.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Security via Pixabay

 

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