Arne Duncan, US Secretary of State for Education, tweeted in 2013: ‘let teens sleep, start school later’. This paper examines early starts and their negative consequences in the light of key research in the last 30 years in sleep medicine and circadian neuroscience. An overview of the circadian timing system in adolescence leading to changes in sleep patterns is given and underpins the conclusion that altering education times can both improve learning and reduce health risks. Further research is considered from education, sleep medicine and neuroscience studies illustrating these improvements. The implementation of later starts is briefly considered in light of other education interventions to improve learning. Finally, the impact of introducing research-based later starts synchronized to adolescent biology is considered in practical and policy terms.
- School start times
- Sleep deprivation