To: Sen. Weiler, T.,
Subject: Later Starting times for Utah High Schools
Dear Representative Edwards and Senator Weiler,
My name is JaNel VanDenBerghe and I live in Bountiful (691 W. 3200 S, 84010). I am interested in introducing legislation in the upcoming 2014 session requiring high schools to start at a later time. Many studies (such as the one I'm attaching) show that teenagers (especially more mature ones i.e. older ones) need up to 9 1/4 hours of sleep a night. In addition, their circadian rhythms change to a later time frame, making it biologically difficult for them to fall asleep before 10 or 11 pm at night, even when their bed time is enforced and/or they are exhausted. These studies also show that when high schools start after 8:30am, school performance and behavior is improved, driving accidents are decreased, and other symptoms of sleep deprivation is decreased. As of now, the high school in my area, Woods Cross, has a first period bell time of 7:30am. Studies show that pushing this to just an hour later could have a huge impact on teens' health and performance. As the mother of one teenager and three soon-to-be teens, I would like to see a first period start time of 8:30 am in Utah high schools. As one doctor in the studies says,
"Given that the primary focus of education is to maximize human potential, then a new task before us is to ensure that the conditions in which learning takes place address the very biology of our learners."
Mary A. Carskadon, PhD, Director of E.P. Bradley Hospital Research Laboratory and professor in Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University School of Medicine
We are always looking for ways to improve the health and increase the potential of our children. This is something that could easily be done--very low-hanging fruit.
I would appreciate if you could advise me how we should proceed in this matter.
A simple Google search will bring up many of this same research, but here are two to get you started:
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