- House Bill 733 filed in Florida seeks to mandate later start times for middle and high schools
- The bill was filed following a presentation on the effects of sleep loss in teens and young adults to the House Choice and Innovation Subcommittee
- Scientific studies suggest that most American teenagers do not receive enough sleep, which can cause metabolic diseases and mental and behavioral health issues
- The American Academy of Pediatrics supports later school start times as an effective measure to combat sleep deprivation in adolescents, which affects their health, safety, and academic success.
House Bill 733, filed by Rep. John Paul Temple, seeks to push back school start times, mandating that middle school classes begin no earlier than 8 A.M., and 8:30 A.M. for high schools.
The filing comes less than a week after the House Choice and Innovation Subcommittee, which Temple serves on, received a presentation on the effects of sleep loss in teens and young adults.
During the presentation, presenters referred to scientific studies that revealed most American teenagers do not receive enough sleep on a consistent basis. A series of pediatricians explained to lawmakers that a lack of sleep actively contributes to metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes, systematic inflation, and mental or behavioral health issues.
“We know that sleep is food for our brains and contributes to important cognitive and performance-related functions that we undertake every day,” added Rep. Kaylee Tuck, chairwoman of the committee. “Sleep for adolescents is even more important as we consider that their sleep patterns undergo changes in their teenage years and many just don’t get enough.”
Lawmakers also viewed data showing that satisfactory sleep patterns in teenagers can be linked to a lower rate of automobile accidents, alcohol, and drug consumption.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which backs the bill, recognizes insufficient sleep in adolescents as an “important public health issue,” claiming that it significantly affects the health and safety, as well as the academic success, of middle and high school students. The group contends that later school start times are an effective measure to combat chronic sleep loss issues.
Should the bill be voted into law, it would go into effect for both public and charter schools. Moreover, each district school board would be required to inform parents, students, teachers, and administrators, among others, about the health, safety, and academic impacts of sleep deprivation on middle school and high school students and the benefits of a later school start time.
“Teens need to learn about the role of sleep and the impact of the deficits affecting them,” said Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom of AAP. “Administrators and teachers need to discuss how the sleep needs of students interact with school activities. When we’re making decisions on education, we need to focus on the child, not the system.”