Universities are asking schools to consider later start times for teenage pupils

A team of ‘sleep experts’ from Universities of Birmingham, Oxford and Aberdeen are leading a study looking at teenagers sleep patterns and testing whether a later school start time could benefit them.

Research already suggests that teenagers don’t get enough sleep, with both physical and social reasons for this, including changes in their melatonin, staying up too late - distracted by TV and computers – resulting in problems with their progress and well-being at school.

To highlight the issue, On Wednesday, 21st February, at 8.30pm, BBC 2 is due to air ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’ which will look at why teenagers’ body clocks are programmed to stay up later than everyone else’s.

The ‘sleep experts’ will be testing out the later start to the day, to see if the teenager’s school work and well-being could benefit. The researchers are recruiting secondary schools across the UK to take part in the study.

Professor Paul Montgomery, lead researcher, University of Birmingham said:

‘We want people to be aware that sleep deprivation in adolescents is a real problem which affects their functioning, their wellbeing and even their academic performance. We want to work with schools - with parents, pupils, teachers, head teachers, support staff, local education authorities and civil servants to run a number of studies to find out what the ideal starting time is, and how schools can manage this.’

The sleep study will focus on GCSE students from year’s 10 and 11 and the researchers are asking secondary schools to get in touch if they would like to be a part of the programme and to help collaborate on what needs to be done for a later start time to become feasible in practice.

The researchers are urging any secondary schools who have noticed problems in their pupils such as over-tiredness and want to look at ways to support their pupils - by improving their alertness and mental wellbeing - to get in touch via the website.

ENDS

For interview requests please contact Rebecca Hume, Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0)121 414 9041 or contact Professor Paul Montgomery directly on 07771 800898

Notes to editors

  • Further details about our work can be found on our website and for details of the first study, go to Teensleep at Oxford.
  • On 21st Feb, at 8.30pm the BBC2 TV programme “Trust Me I’m a Doctor” will be airing an article on why teenagers’ body clocks are programmed to be later than everyone else’s.