Authors: Alice Weatherston
A team of researchers from the University of Oxford (UK), Harvard Medical School (MA, USA) and the University of Nevada (NV, USA) who have been investigating the impact of school and university start times have discovered that current early starts can be damaging to both student health and learning.
The study was triggered by previous understanding of circadian rhythms and the genes responsible for the regulation of the daily cycle. During adolescence the disparity between the inbuilt human circadian rhythm, which dictates optimum hours of concentration and work, and the typical working day are at their most stark, a shift of up to 3 hours later in the day than for adults.
Using these known genetic changes in natural sleeping patterns, the team, led by Paul Kelley (University of Oxford), set out to establish the start times that would optimize both learning and the general health of students within schools and universities.
Findings illustrated shifts in the optimum time to begin the working day dependent on school age, recommending that start times should be 08:30+ at age 10, 10:00+ at age 16, and 11:00+ at age 18, and that these changes would go some way in preventing sleep deprivation in students.
Source: Taylor & Francis Group