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Three House Democrats are proposing that the federal government conduct a study on whether kids are getting up too early for school, and whether the government should recommend later start times for older kids who need to get more sleep.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced the ZZZ's to A's Act, which would require the Secretary of Education to conduct a study that examines the relationship between school start times and student health. The study would include comparisons between students at schools that start at different times.

highschoolasleep A recent study said high schoolers need more sleep, and a Democratic bill proposes more study on whether classes should start later.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The bill finds that the Department of Education "has not formally issued policy guidance on school start times," and that many local school districts are considering changing their start times over new worries about student health.

Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned that chronic sleep loss is a major problem for older students, and recommended later start times for middle and high schools.

"[G]etting enough sleep each night can be hard for teens whose natural sleep cycles make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. – and who face a first-period class at 7:30 a.m. or earlier the next day," the group said.

The group recommended that high schools delay the start of class until 8:30 a.m. or later, which would especially help high schoolers who need sleep the most. "Doing so will align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty," the group said.

The group said the lack of sleep among high schoolers is due to several factors, including homework, sports, and jobs, and is also being affected by the use of new technology that "can keep them up late on week nights." Still, it said starting school later would help, and warned that napping and consuming caffeine "do not restore optimal alertness and are not a substitute for regular, sufficient sleep."

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