In April 2021, the U.S. Senate passed a bill known as SB 328, which will require all high schools in California to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
Due to the new bill, every high school in the William S. Hart School District will have to drop their first periods, due to the class starting at 7:00 a.m.
“I think first periods are helpful for some kids because it allows you to get a class out of the way so they can leave school earlier,” said Jake Boss, a West Ranch High School junior who will be affected his senior year.
The idea to drop the first period class, to many, seems to be good because many students will receive more sleep that results in better performances in assignments and tests.
However, some students will feel the change – in what many seem to say is a necessary change – to negatively impact them
“Personally I feel like it puts me at a disadvantage because now I don’t have space in my schedule for some of the other stuff that I wanted to do, so now I feel forced to pick between the stuff that I love,” said Siddharth Sudan, a West Ranch High School sophomore.
The system before also left many people unhappy – feeling like people who get out earlier have an unfair advantage.
Miranda Town, 17, has never taken a first period and has seen many students walk in and out during lunch making her feel a negative way.
“Seeing people get out before lunch also envied me,” stated Miranda Town with a strong spewing of words. “I’ve never had a first period because I believe that it is beneficial for us as students to have enough sleep.”
Student sleep has also been a problem for years now, with many feeling like they don’t get enough sleep due to a variety of reasons.
Students may have to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to do their daily morning routine before they head to the car and drive off. Sports and many after school activities also contribute to their extended day. Teens have to do homework and study for exams as well.
Nationwidechildren.org acknowledged the fact that children around the ages of 13-19 are only getting seven hours of sleep, when the average student needs around nine hours.
The lack of rest shows in the adolescents’ mood, ability to pay attention,driving abilities and cognitive health. The negative impact in cognitive health means that the students will have a hard time remembering what they learned in class and maybe even outside of class, according to nationwidechildren.org
The added stress to these high schoolers has become apparent for many teachers like Jennifer Overdevest – a West Ranch High School video and news production teacher whose class usually starts around seven – it has become apparent at such early hours that her students may not be fully awake during the early class.
“The teenage brain doesn’t really shut off until night time, so the idea is that students shouldn’t really be starting school before 8:30 a.m.,” said Overdevest. “They really should be sleeping in and getting rested and then going to school because then I think that they are more awake because any earlier than they’re not really ready.”
For students like Sudan and Boss, the idea of less sleep and the negative effects it has to the mind doesn’t seem to bother them too much
“High school kids need their sleep and rest but I like to get in there early and get things done,” said Sudan.
“I’m honestly going to miss it,” said Boss about the first period going away.
For students and parents there is advice on how to get more sleep from nationwidechildrens.org.
How to help your teenager get enough sleep (nationwidechildrens.org)
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Your teenager should go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day. Her sleep schedule should also ensure adequate time in bed.
- Avoid oversleeping on weekends. Although catching up on some sleep on the weekends can be helpful, sleeping in until noon on Sunday will make it hard for your teenager to get back on a school schedule that night.
- Take early afternoon naps. A nap of 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon can be beneficial.
- Turn off televisions, computers, and radios. Television viewing, computer-game playing, internet use, and other stimulating activities at bedtime will cause problems falling asleep.
- Avoid caffeine, smoking, alcohol, and drugs. All of these cause sleep problems.
Contact your teenager’s doctor. Speak to your adolescent’s physician if she has difficulties falling asleep, snores, or seems excessively sleepy during the day.