School children are more alert and have quicker reaction times in the afternoon, according to a study whose findings appear to fly in the face of current thinking. Many primary schools design timetables around the assumption that children are more focused and open to learning in the morning and therefore tend to teach maths and literary lessons before lunch.
Thousands of children aged nine to 11 in schools across the UK took part in the survey. They were asked to keep a sleep diary for three days before and after the clocks changed in March and took part in a series of tests designed to measure both their tiredness and reaction times in the morning and afternoon.
Almost seven in 10 of the children who took part (68%) described themselves as being more of an “evening type”, with greater energy levels and higher alertness later in the day. They were also sleepier in the morning than the afternoon.
Resarchers Katharina Wulff and Christopher-James Harvey from the University of Oxford, who helped design the research and analysed the data from 900 pupils, said the study was based on a large, representative sample of 9-11-year-old schoolchildren across the UK.
“Results were surprising in two ways,” said Wulff. “First, that children slept longer after the clock change, and second, their reaction time was faster in the afternoon than in the morning.”
Do you agree with the findings? Is your school involved with the BBC Terrific Scientific project? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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