Getting out of bed to make an early start is a struggle for most school-going teens. However, new research has suggested that letting them sleep in longer will radically improve their grades and attendance.
Lost days due to illness can be halved if students are given 10am starts instead of typical 8.30am classes, according to the findings published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. It also noticed a 12% increase in grades for students given later start times.
The study conducted its research over a four-year period into the behaviour of 13-16 year old pupils at a state-funded UK secondary school.
"The big issue about school times is health," said Dr Paul Kelley of the Open University, the lead author of paper. "It starts with physical illness, and then there's mental illness, and last but not least academic performance."
"Ten isn't a magic number," he said. "The time shift gets progressively later, for biological reasons, from the onset of puberty."
Researchers examined one school which began lessons at 8:50am and then recorded student behaviour after they were switched to a 10am start the following year. In the third year of the study students were switched back to an 8:50am start which saw positive health benefits reversed.
The report suggests that school children have radically different circadian rhythms which results in inconsistent sleeping patterns. Children are more likely to stay up later than adults which causes them to have poorer-quality sleep.
Sleep experts recommend that children and young teenagers should get around nine-hours of sleep every night, one hour more than the recommendation for adults.