Two Nashville Lawmakers File Bill Aimed at Letting Students Sleep More


Democrat Nashville lawmakers Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville-HD55) and Sen. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville-SD19) filed a bill that would change the start times of high schools and middle schools, ostensibly giving students more time to sleep.

HB1836 and SB1818 were filed on Wednesday and amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-6-3004, by adding “Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, each public high school shall begin classroom instruction no earlier than eight-thirty a.m. (8:30 a.m.). Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, each public middle school shall begin classroom instruction no earlier than eight o’clock a.m. (8:00 a.m.).”

High school students are defined in the bill as students that are in grades 9-12 and middle school students are children in grades 6-8. In many areas, these changes could given students an extra hour or more of sleep.

The change in school times would align with recommendations made by the CDC.

The CDC’s website says that, “Children and adolescents who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk for many health and behavior problems.” A higher risk of obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behavior are issues that students lacking sufficient amounts of sleep face.

Middle school students (grades 6-8) were surveyed in 9 states and 57.8% were found to be lacking in sleep. A national sample of high school students (grades 9-12) was also conducted and 72.7% of them were found to be short on sleep.

The CDC recommends that parents can support their child’s sleep habits by, “Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule during the school week and weekends. This means going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning. Adolescents whose parents set bedtimes are more likely to get enough sleep.”

They can also help their children sleep properly by “limiting light exposure and technology use in the evenings”, “when their children may use electronic devices”, and limiting “where their children may use electronic devices (for example, not in their child’s bedroom).”

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children aged 6–12 years should sleep 9–12 hours per day and teenagers aged 13–18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per day.

The CDC came to their conclusions based on national and state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys conducted in 2015. The “Short Sleep Duration Among Middle School and High School Students — United States, 2015” study methodology and more findings can be found here.

Elementary school aged students are not mentioned in this bill.

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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.



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9 Thoughts to “Two Nashville Lawmakers File Bill Aimed at Letting Students Sleep More”

  1. Jay

    The nanny state at its best

  2. 83ragtop50

    These two must live in a dream world (pun intended). Kids will just stay up later the night before if class start times are pushed back to the proposed times. Doesn’t the legislature have any real work to do? Who elected these geniuses?

    1. Anna

      I think it is interesting Clemmons is the one who brought this issue up, since he is liberal and this is a centrist/bipartisan issue supported by many republicans across the US. It also puts him adverse to Metro Nashville Schools who want to keep the 7am start time.

      To address your issue about teens staying up later – studies show teens don’t stay up later, but that they sleep and it helps grades and sports performance. It reduces sports injuries by 70% and improves football response times. So, maybe it is worth supporting. I found some great info on the subject at

  3. Traditional thinker

    Or parents can take the little darlings phone’s, t.v. time, and games away from them and make them go to bed at a decent hour at night. This is the ignorance that liberals never seem to grasp or rather intentionally initiate to change the normalities of what has worked for hundreds of years. However in the liberals defense, when their kids display more maturity then themselves, they have a delimna. Stupidity at its upmost.

    1. A.C.

      Parents do need to take phones away to help teens get sleep! But, when I read this, I looked into it. Knoxville has been starting high school at 8:30am for years. So have a bunch of the rural districts. A republican, Justin Wilson, even published a study on the benefits of later start times in 2013, so I am confused why liberals are taking this issue, especially since their beloved Metro Nashville Schools are against it. Plus, it seems like later start times help our student athletes perform better with less injury – lord knows our high school football team could use some improvements since they can never make it to playoffs. Just my thoughts.

  4. 1). Who in their right mind finds the CDC has any credibility left.
    2). With starting times of 8:30, parents can forget about making it to their job on time.

    1. Glenn

      There’s something called a school bus. You’re already paying for it. Might as well use it. God forbid if someone has to stand at a bus stop and wait. It’s not a requirement you chauffer you kid to the stop and have them wait on the bus in a heated car.

      1. Not a Morning Person

        Agreed. Plus, most teens drive. (Although my friend’s teen did wreck his truck when he feel asleep driving on the way to school at 6:30am) I will say, my 14 year old has to wake up at 5:45am to catch the bus, and that sucks, so maybe there is something to starting school a bit later. I am tired of dragging her out of bed before the sun is even up. What time do y’all start school? We are a bit after 7 here.

    2. Cath

      The CDC has no credibility left at all! But I did look into it and later start times seem to have some merit beyond the CDC. For where I live, it would be helpful if teens could go later because they can take the bus after I go to work. Then, the elementary kids, who can’t get left alone, could go early so I could get to work sooner. Plus, I am sick of trying to wake up my teen at 6am!