If teenagers get more sleep, California could gain billions

Sleep deprivation among teenagers should be regarded as a public health epidemic. Only about 40% of teenagers get the eight to 10 hours of sleep a night recommended by sleep scientists and pediatricians.

A major reason teens aren’t getting enough sleep isn’t hormones, their busy social lives, too much homework or too much screen time. It’s actually a matter of public policy.

That public policy is school start times — an issue that is being debated around the country, and particularly in California, where the Senate has passed and the Assembly is about to vote on a bill that would require middle and high schools across the state to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. That would be consistent with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other major medical organizations.

For California, it’s a small change, really. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average start time for middle and high schools in the state is 8:07 a.m. So the proposed law would, on average, delay the beginning of the school day by 23 minutes. However, this small change could have big implications.

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