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Friday, 04 August 2017 00:00


August means students will be dusting off their alarm clocks or turning on their forgotten alarm apps and heading back to school. The joy of sleeping in on a weekday will come to an end, or will it? A debate has waged for years about whether school should start after 8:30 a.m. Among those who are for the later start time is the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who state that 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." AAP also states that on average a teenager needs to receive 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night, so a child whose natural sleep cycle started at 8:30 p.m. would change to a start time of 10:30 p.m. when he hit puberty and if he received the minimum 8.5 hours of required sleep wouldn't wake up until 7 a.m. That doesn't leave much travel time or anything else if school starts at 7:30 a.m. Adequate sleep would also reduce other side effects like depression and car accidents and overall increase the effectiveness of lessons. If you aren't tired then its just easier to pay attention. However, the opposing side states that late start times are unnecessary and that the reduction of artificial light, light from televisions, computers, tablets and phones, would have the same effect on our sleep/wake cycle. Parents who take their kids to school would also be greatly impacted by the later start times especially if they are unable to change their work hours. The California State Legislature may soon be providing us with a long awaited answer to this debate as a bill marches through the legislature. In time we will see what becomes of it and if any other state follows suit. Until then, there is always the snooze button.