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Pediatrician: Health benefits to later school start times

Posted at 6:57 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-22 21:57:53-04

BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — Parents could soon see a change in what time their middle and high school kids start school with the pupil attendance bill passing through the state senate this week. Senate Bill 328 would require the school day for middle schools, high schools, and charter schools to begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

The bill still needs to pass through the state assembly before heading to the governor's desk.

23ABC spoke to Dr. Hitesh Shah, a Bakersfield pediatrician, who says about 15% of children take up to two hours longer to fall asleep compared to people at other ages, so a later start time would bring great health benefits.

“I am very happy that legislation is looking into this issue and considering delaying the time and it will benefit society the most,” Shah said. “They have a delay in sleep time, and they cannot go to sleep because of the hormonal changes that they have and that’s what really leads them to sleep late and wake up late."

Shah says throughout his 29 years of practice he constantly hears from his adolescent patients who say they are not getting enough sleep. He also recommends that children get at least nine hours of sleep daily.

“I really noticed that kids they do well on Monday through Tuesday, but as the week goes by, they become irritable or cranky,” added Shah.

He wants to remind parents that a child who is constantly falling asleep throughout the day may have other factors going on.

According to a 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “children and adolescents who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk for many health and behavior problems.”

“They may have to at least be evaluated there could be other medical problems with that and or issues with their sleep patterns,” said Shah. “And they should look into that before labeling their kid as lazy.”