High school and college classes generally start at fixed times in the morning, often as early as 7am in the morning, without regard to optimal functioning times for students with different chronotypes. But a new study indicates that if universities want to encourage better learning, they should restructure their classroom schedules.
A group of researchers analysed students' cognitive performance throughout the day and found that the best learning happened in classes that began later in the morning. Data from 190 mostly first and second year university students were collected and analyzed to determine optimal times when cognitive performance can be expected to be at its peak. Since every person's sleep pattern is slightly different, there is no universal start time to benefit everyone but the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, indicates that starting classes at 11am or later benefits the greatest number of students.
Amy X. Wang reported for Quartz that some schools have already begun restructuring their start times. In 2013, the UCL Academy in London became Britain's first school to start later its day, letting students arrive at 10am so they can "fully wake up" beforehand. Would other universities follow?