Here is good news for school going children and adolescents. If you feel tired after getting up early in the morning and feel sleepy in the classroom, you are not the only one. There are many other students who feel the same way. A new study conducted in Rhode Island schools reveled that students feel more energetic, motivated and alert, if they start their school half an hour late. This delay also increased their average sleep time during the week.
About the study
The research was conducted by sleep expert Dr. Judy Owens, from Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island and colleagues. Researchers analyzed more than 200 high school students of St. George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island. For the purposes of the study, the school’s starting time was delayed 30 minutes, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The students were given an online questionnaire to fill about their sleep habits before and after the change in start time. The results were stunning according to Patricia Moss, academic dean at the Rhode Island boarding school where the study was done.
- The percentage of students getting less than seven hours of sleep per night dropped by 79.4%.
- Students reporting at least eight hours of sleep per night increased from 16.4% at the start of the study to 54.7% after two months.
- The percentage of students who reported feeling at least somewhat unhappy or depressed dropped from 65.8% to 45.1%.
- The percentage of students who reported feeling annoyed or irritated throughout the day also dropped, from 84% to 62.6%.
- Reports of visiting a health center for fatigue-related symptoms decreased from 15.3% to 4.6%.
- Sleep duration increased...
on school nights by about 45 minutes and the average bedtime on school nights was 18 minutes earlier.
The study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Researchers mentioned that when children start puberty, they develop a delay in their sleep-wake cycle of up to two hours. That means they sleep late and wake up late. The biological clock is also developed with preference for an 11 p.m. sleep time and an 8 a.m. wake time.
Although study provides positive results to improve mood and alertness in the classroom, but some experts argued that a later class start time may result in students going to bed later and exacerbate the cycle of getting too little sleep. Some of the schools changed their morning school time, while many schools did not support the study. In my view the study supports the comfort zone of students. Changing the school time can develop a habit of getting up late. Researchers conducted only a pilot study that too for a short duration. The student’s performance should be observed throughout the year to evaluate if their performance constantly improves or declines.