OPINION: Senate Bill 328 should have passed for the sake of students’ sleep

Senate Bill 328 was drafted and first presented to the California Assembly on Feb. 13 of this year. The bill would have pushed start times for middle and high schools back to or after 8:30 a.m.,  but it was rejected on Sept. 14, obtaining only 26 of the required 41 votes. However, the bill had much scientific evidence to back it up and would have been a great change for the school system.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that people between the ages of 13-18 should get 8-10 hours of sleep regularly. Despite these recommendations and statistics, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital states that most teenagers only get seven hours of sleep every night, 1-3 hours less than the recommended.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, getting below the proper amount of sleep can result in several mental health problems, such as symptoms of depression and poor school performance. Sleep deprivation can also negatively affect a student’s mood, limiting their ability to control their emotions and increasing their aggravation.

Drowsiness caused by early school start times is also very unsafe for students who drive. The National Sleep Foundation states that students who are 25 or younger cause over half of fall-asleep crashes, which often lead to injury or death. Insomnia also increases the likelihood of substance abuse, which is dangerous for a developing mind.

Some might argue that starting school later may make students lazier, but if anything, the opposite is true. If students were allowed to sleep later, it would allow them to get their work done faster. Work ethic can only go up from where teenagers currently are.

Start times being pushed back would also mean pushing back sports that take place after school, but this isn’t a major issue. Practice would run until about 6:30 p.m., which leaves plenty of time to go home, eat and do any assigned work.

SB 328 was an amazing idea that could have almost immediate obvious positive effects to students in California, shown through better grades, improvement in mental health and less car accidents by students.