We are petitioning to request that the Benicia Unified School District Board implement a healthy start time for Benicia High School students. To protect the health and intellectual potential of young adults, sleep experts recommend a delay in morning classes until 8:30 a.m., or later. Starting school at 8:00 a.m., or 7:00 a.m for 'early bird' class, is unhealthy for adolescents.
There is evidence that middle and high school students need about 9 hours of sleep a night. Physiological changes in teens cause the “sleep” hormone, melatonin, to be secreted much later in the evening than in children and adults, resulting in teens not being able to fall asleep early enough to get the amount of sleep they need. Instead, students start school when their brains and bodies are still in biological sleep mode. Sleep deprivation in teens has been consistently linked to depression, anxiety, truancy, tardiness, substance abuse, and weakened immune systems.
Delaying start times to 8:30 or later has been associated with greater attention and impulse control, less anxiety /depression, and increased academic performance and cognitive processing skills. Students in schools that changed start times reported gaining at least an hour of sleep per night, eating breakfast regularly, being more efficient and alert in class, and having greater motivation. A report published by the Brookings Institution associated a significant increase in test scores with later middle and high school start times, with benefits roughly twice as great in disadvantaged students.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, the National Sleep Foundation and various state Medical Associations all support later school starts. Please see the following websites for additional information on this important issue affecting our children's health and academic potential: