It has long been suspected, and now research is supplying the evidence: delaying school start times results in students getting more sleep, and feeling better. The most recent study in Singapore investigated the impact of a 45-min delay in school start time on sleep and well-being of adolescents. They shifted the start of the school day from 7.30am (which though early is not uncommon in Asian countries) to 8.15am, without making the day end later. After one month, researchers interviewed students and found that bedtimes on school nights were delayed by nine minutes while the times students got up were delayed by about 32 minutes, resulting in an increased time in bed of 23 minutes. This may not seem like much, but the percentage of students getting at least 8 hours of sleep in the school week rose from 6.9% to 16%, and all reported more alertness and feelings of well-being.
These findings support studies from the USA and UK. However, it has proved difficult to change practices, even in face of this evidence, and calls in 2015 by Paul Kelley of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford, to delay the start of school and college in the UK for the benefit of students largely went unheard or unheeded. Teenagers don’t get to make educational policy!