Delaying school start time does not help sleepy teenagers

Teenagers have long been renowned – fairly or not – for waking up late and struggling to get out of bed in time for school.

Habits like these have led to suggestions that schools should delay lesson start times for older teens, enabling them to be more in tune with their body clocks.

But new research by the University of Surrey and Harvard Medical School in the US has disputed this view.

The study, conducted by a team of mathematicians and sleep scientists, found that starting school later in the morning is unlikely to reduce sleep deprivation in teenagers. It reported that teenagers are particularly sensitive to light – so increasing their exposure to light during the day, turning lights down in the evening and off at night would be a more effective way to help them feel brighter and more alert in the morning.

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