Teens aren’t ready for the world at 8am. It’s not just a bad attitude or the late nights gaming and snapchatting, it’s biological. That’s the conclusion by Paul Kelley, a sleep scientist who works at the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford. Speaking at the British Science Festival this week, Kelley revealed what parents and teachers have long suspected: teens should start around 11 am. A 10-year-old can start at 8:30 and be ready, but for an 18-year-old, 8:30 am is a no-go zone. The brain just isn’t ready.
Kelley’s studies can have practical application in the real world — if we can figure out a way. Obviously this means that for optimum learning efficiency, school for kids in their late teens would start later. But the problem with this simple solution is the way society is currently constructed, school has to keep the same hours as adult work schedules. It’s a world where practically every parent works, and that includes teachers — what are they supposed to do, by the way, during their prime morning hours, while their students lollygag about until their brains wake up? Kelley acknowledges that scheduling changes are hard; he also knows “we’re generally a sleep-deprived society.” (That’s everybody, not just teens.)