Project lead: Professor Paul Montgomery

Evidence indicates that adolescents (aged 14-17) need at least nine hours of sleep to function well: yet many get far less, thus limiting their cognitive/academic performance and threatening their mental wellbeing. In response to this, may schools have delayed their start time for adolescents. Evidence suggests that this can lead to an increase in sleep time and improved circadian alertness.  However these studies are of low quality often lacking objective/validated measures of sleep, academic outcomes and wellbeing.

This project will take a community-based participatory approach involving stakeholders throughout. We will also learn from schools that have already implemented time-changes and run a feasibility trial to inform our plans for a full scale-up trial. We will develop and test optimal methods of outcome data collection and investigate the ideal time period – both experimentally and pragmatically.  

Aims of the project

To communicate our results and to assess:

  • How feasible it might be to change school start times in practice
  • To compare mental health and academic outcomes for teenagers whose school start time changes to those whose school start times doesn’t change
  • The costs of making these changes

Research outputs and impact

  • Reports on the study to show:
    • How change in starting time was implemented
    • How easy/difficult it was for schools to change the starting time
    • The effect of delaying school start times on pupils’ mental health, wellbeing and academic outcomes:
          • The optimum sleep extension needed in order to make a real improvement
          • The minimum shift needed in school day start times in order to make a real improvement
    • How much it costs per child to change the school day start time
    • Pupils’ attitudes to extended sleep and later school day start times
  •  Guidance for schools, children and parents on managing changes in school start time and sleep
  • A tried and tested mobile sleep diary app to for future sleep monitoring 
  • Detailed preparation for a larger, scaled-up trial

Meet the team

Find out more and get in touch

Any secondary schools who have noticed a problem of over-tiredness and want to look at ways to support their pupils by improving their alertness and mental wellbeing are urged to get in touch:

  • Name


Could later school starts improve academic progress?

Could later school starts improve academic progress?