A recent study by the Quirónsalud Hospital in Valencia has investigated a link between teenage fatigue and school hours.
Gonzalo Pin, a leading paediatrician at the hospital has been lobbying for a change in the school timetable to coincide with a teenager’s body clock.
Pin believes the issue is that the general school day for adolescents in 8am until 2.30pm. This means that teenagers will not be eating lunch until 3pm at the earliest, thus pushing work, study, dinner and bed time further back into the night. This creates a perpetual ‘jet lag’ effect.
These current hours also work against a teenager’s biological clock, as they are less likely to be alert and functioning before 9am.
Pin’s findings have been backed up by the European study, Sleep Habits in Student’s Performance (SHASTU).
“Our research shows that adapting school timetables to the biological clock increases academic performance by at least one [percentage] point, particularly in children who were previously performing poorly,” says Pin. “It also reduces the number of behavioral problems in the classroom, making learning time more efficient.”
As a result of the study, schools in Catalonia are trialling a new scheme whereby students are being given lunchtime means between 1pm and 2pm, meaning they don’t have to eat when they get back home.
Pin is also pushing for school starting times to be pushed back one hour to 9am so that students can allow time for a proper breakfast before arriving and to give then time to properly wake up before lessons start.