Here is an update of a story Patch posted earlier about
American children do not get enough sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Teenagers in particular need sleep; lots of it, according to the medical research. The problem is their bodies don’t always want to hit the sack early, making it difficult to rise in the morning. This leads to early morning high school classes with bobble-head students nodding in and out of a snooze. Part of the problem is many high school have an early start time which can be pushed to even earlier if the student is taking a class before first period.
That may be changing if a new national petition gets enough signatures to make lawmakers pay attention to the issue. Spearheaded by Terra Snider, a medical writer and mom of teenagers, the petition needs 1,000 signatures to be delivered to legislators in Washington D.C., currently there are 953, according to Snider.
Snider said she began her campaign for a later start time in her home county in Maryland more than a decade ago, with little luck.
“I eventually gave up my personal battle as I came to understand that every time the issue is raised locally, the result is raging controversy --and, almost inevitably, politics, money, and myth win out over children's best interests,” Snider wrote in an e-mail to Patch.
She’s now taken the issue to the Internet in the hopes that it will gain national attention.
Snider, of Severna Park, wrote to her local contributes to "student performance, truancy, and absenteeism, as well as depression, mood swings, impulse control, tobacco and alcohol use, impaired cognitive function and decision-making, obesity, stimulant abuse, automobile accidents and suicide."
She started a petition on the White House's We the People website last month to drum up support for legislation regarding school start times, but fell short before the deadline.
At Enumclaw High School, Zero Hour starts at 6:59 a.m., and first period at 8 a.m., which is before sunrise at this time of year.
Evidence has been mounting that students function better in school with later start times since a landmark study out of the University of Minnesota in 2002. The study (see PDF) showed students did significantly better when school began after 8 a.m. A more recent study from the Brookings Institute confirmed those findings showing that students who had early start times performed worse throughout the say than their peers who started school later in the morning.