Health: UK Scientists Call for School to Start Later

If school started at 10:00 AM, would you sleep more or go to bed even later? Dr. Kelley and his Oxford colleagues are recruiting 100 schools around the UK to participate in an experiment called Teensleep that will test how a change in schedule affects sleep deprivation. The schools will be randomly divided into four groups: one will start school for 14- to 16-year-olds at 10:00 AM, another will start at 10:00  AM and offer sleep education to their students, the third will offer sleep education with no time alteration, and the fourth will make no alterations. The experiment will take place during the 2016-2017 school year and results will be available in 2018.

Our biological clock is an internal system that regulates the natural rise and fall of our alertness. During adolescence, our biological rhythms of alertness are displaced, making us alert later in the morning and sleepy later at night. Professor Dijk, from the University of Surrey, says that a change in schedule is not enough: “There is undoubtedly a biological component, but that interacts with our artificial light environment.” Because our biological clock depends heavily on light, he suggests that we should also avoid screen-activity during evening hours.

Contributor: Cristina Herrera

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