Starting school later can improve teens’ academic performance, study finds

Getting up early for school must be the bane of every teenager’s life.

Now, a new study suggests that starting the school day later and letting them sleep can improve their mood, which in turn could affect school performance.

The researchers pushed back the start time of one school in Brazil an hour and monitored students’ sleep, drowsiness and emotional health.

Overall, teens reported feeling less depressed, angry, tense and tired at school, the academics found.

The new findings call for the postponement of school start time across the UK – something the Department for Education refused to implement three years ago.

This is even though previous studies have already shown a link between sleep deprivation and poor emotional health in adolescents.

Teenagers love to sleep in, and a new study shows that a little more sleep can benefit their performance at school (file photo)

The new study was conducted by a team of Brazilian experts, led by academics from the Federal University for Latin American Integration (UNILA) in the city of Foz do Iguaçu.

“Late start time is effective in increasing sleep duration, improving sleepiness and mood profile,” they state in their paper published in the journal sleep health.

UK SCHOOL START TIMES

In the UK, a normal school day starts between 8am and 9am and ends between 3pm and 4pm.

Class hours are determined by each school, but on average they are about five to six hours a day.

In 2019, the Ministry of Education said it had no plans to require secondary schools to start later.

“The government has given all schools the ability to set their own class times so that all schools have autonomy to make decisions,” he said.

Source: InterNations

“The findings presented in our study lend further support to the growing body of evidence on the positive outcomes of delaying school start time.”

Researchers say our circadian rhythm – the 24-hour cycle that’s part of the body’s internal clock – changes dramatically during adolescence and can make it difficult for teens to stay awake in the morning.

Before puberty, the body induces sleepiness around 8 or 9 p.m., but when puberty begins, this rhythm shifts a few hours later to 10 or 11 p.m.

Because the circadian rhythm in many teens naturally encourages the body to stay awake later in the evening, the change makes it harder for them to wake up.

Therefore, changing the start time of school would be the best strategy to combat sleep deprivation in adolescents, they argue.

For the study, the team recruited 48 students from a high school in Palotina, Brazil, who were taken to wear actigraphs – wrist-worn devices that record sleep and wake cycles – continuously for three weeks.

During ‘Week A’ and ‘Week C’, school started at the usual time – 7.30am – but during ‘Week B’, the start time of school was delayed by one hour to 8.30am .

For this reason, adolescents had to wake up later in week B (7:42 a.m.) compared to weeks A (6:54 a.m.) and C (6:46 a.m.).

In week B, the school board decided to slightly shorten break times and lessons, and extend the end of school time by 25 minutes, to account for the late start.

During “Week A” and “Week C” school started at the usual time - 7:30 a.m., but during “Week B” the start time of school was delayed by one hour. at 8:30 a.m.

During “Week A” and “Week C” school started at the usual time – 7:30 a.m., but during “Week B” the start time of school was delayed by one hour. at 8:30 a.m.

Over the three weeks, actigraphers measured sleep pattern and duration, while participants also completed surveys of their sleepiness, sleep quality, mood, and levels of anxiety and depression.

The results showed that starting school later in the morning had a positive impact on sleep and mood.

During week B, students showed lower levels of fatigue, tension, confusion, anger and depression, and higher levels of vigor.

Interestingly, despite starting school later, the participants did not change their bedtime, so they benefited from waking up later, as well as an increase in their overall sleep duration. .

Additionally, as a result of longer sleep, adolescents reported feeling less drowsiness (drowsiness or drowsiness) upon arrival and before leaving school.

The researchers acknowledge that delaying the start of the school year is “not an easy solution to implement”.

Students were made to wear ActTrust AT0503 actigraphs - wrist-worn devices that record sleep and wake cycles (file photo)

Students were made to wear ActTrust AT0503 actigraphs – wrist-worn devices that record sleep and wake cycles (file photo)

During week B, students showed lower levels of fatigue, tension, confusion, anger and depression, and higher levels of vigor

During week B, students showed lower levels of fatigue, tension, confusion, anger and depression, and higher levels of vigor

“We recognize the logistical challenges of implementing a significant back-to-school time delay, but even so, efforts must be made to build a more inclusive education system,” they state.

However, better sleep can improve emotional regulation, according to the study, which could lead to improvements in school attendance and performance.

Academics in the United States have already shown that forcing teenagers to wake up before the biological clock tells them to stunt their academic growth.

A 2011 study of 19-year-olds in the United States Air Force found that those who started classes at 8:50 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. performed better on their exams.

In the UK, Parliament was brought to debate the issue of back-to-school hours in 2019, following an online petition signed by more than 179,000 people, titled ‘School should start at 10 a.m. because teenagers are too tired”.

However, the Ministry of Education has said it has no plans to require secondary schools to start later.

“The government has given all schools the ability to set their own class times so that all schools have autonomy to make decisions,” he said.

“The Department does not intend to require secondary schools to start later. We trust school leaders to decide how best to structure their school day to support the education of their students.

In 2013, UCL Academy secondary school in London decided to push back its start time to 10 a.m., to allow pupils to “wake up fully” before lessons.

However, the school now requires students to arrive by 8:25 a.m. Monday through Friday, its website says. MailOnline has contacted the school over the decision to restore its start times to normal.

BEING EDUCATED IN PRIVATE DOESN’T MAKE YOU HAPPIER, STUDY SAYS

Private education does not make people happier in life than going through the public system, suggests a 2022 study.

The academics found no difference in well-being between young adults who had attended fee-paying schools and those who had completed full tuition.

The results, from University College London (UCL), may disappoint parents who have spent considerable sums on a private education.

The best state schools often charge upwards of £40,000 a year and devote significant resources to pastoral care.

Previous studies have shown that while private education leads to better academic results, it does not protect against psychological distress.

In an earlier study of people born in 1970, mental health problems were even found to be increased in women with private education.

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