To honor National Sleep Awareness Week, a grassroots coalition of parents, teachers, and health professionals delivered a petition advocating a minimum school start time of 8 am to Congress and White House officials on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. The petition, garnering national attention, has signatures from all 50 states and Washington, DC and has fueled activity in local communities from Short Hills, NJ, to Woodinville, Wash.
"Most US high schools today start in the 7 am hour, a practice that began several decades ago primarily to save money on bus runs," explains Terra Ziporyn Snider, PhD, a medical writer and the petition creator from Maryland who is also a mother of three. After more than a decade of work advocating for later start times in her local school system, Snider recounts, "Although evidence is crystal clear that starting later is best for health and learning, political obstacles and myths have made change virtually impossible in most districts."
The petition effort has galvanized a national coalition of health professionals, sleep researchers, educators, parents, and other concerned citizens called Start School Later. The coalition has representation from 16 states and includes an advisory board comprised of notable sleep researchers, adolescent health care providers, and education leaders.