According to one of the UK’s leading sleep experts, starting the working day at 9am or before is akin to ‘torture’. Dr Paul Kelly who is an Oxford University academic said the lack of sleep “poses a serious threat to performance”.
Experts believe that starting school at 10:00am instead of 9:00am could prove to have huge benefits for teachers and students alike. Research conducted by scientists in the UK suggests that society pays too little attention to their ‘body clock’. Further findings showed that adolescents in particular have a late running biological rhythm, which means insisting on early starts can lead to sleep deprivation. Dr Kelly stated that adolescents effectively lose up to two hours of sleep per day due to their body clock not being in sync with the typical working day. “Most people wake up to alarms, not because they have naturally woken up” claims the Oxford academic.
The research continued to show that people aged 14-24 are the most deprived when it comes to sleep. Dr Kelly and his colleagues which includes well-known sleep researcher Prof Russell Foster, believe that school days should start at 10:00 and university at 11:00 to better match the sleeping patterns of adolescents and young adults. Dr Kelly’s research showed that as children enter the teenage years, early starts become out of sync with their natural internal body clock.
Dr Kelly continued to state that the human body clock does not become accustomed to early starts till the age of 55. Only at the age of 55 do workers need less sleep and their sleeping patterns become accustomed to early mornings. “Early starts are causing us to have a sleep-deprived society, which is hugely damaging on the body’s systems because you are affecting physical emotional and performance systems in the body”. The research carried out found a lack of sleep has been found to affect attention, long-term memory and to encourage drug and alcohol abuse”.
What do you think? By allowing later starts for adolescents will this mean they will be better able to learn as well as having fewer behavioural problems like Dr Kelly suggests? Or is this just a scientist looking for a longer lie in in the mornings? Have your say…