A school changed its start time from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Here's what happened.

The study examines students at a secondary school in Singapore, which leads the world in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings.


A new study from Singapore suggests later school start times are better for students’ health, echoing past findings of sleep research conducted in the West.

The paper, published in Oxford University Press’ SLEEP journal, describes how an all-girls secondary school in Singapore delayed its start time from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., doing so without compromising its curriculum or pushing back its end time. 

The researchers surveyed students before the start time change, one month after, and again eight months after that. After the start time change, students reported getting better sleep, experiencing fewer depressive symptoms, and having an easier time staying awake. What’s more, the majority of students, teachers, and parents supported the schedule change after running the experiment.

This might seem unsurprising, considering sleep researchers in the West have for years reported similar findings on the importance of sleep among adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for instance, recommends schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later to better align with the “biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty.”

(Image: Sleepeducation.org)

But the current study is significant because of differences in culture. The researchers note that many cultures in East Asia emphasize the importance of academic success. Singapore, in particular, leads the world in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings, which measure scholastic performance of students aged 15 years. However, students in Singapore also report having poor life satisfaction and high levels of anxiety.

The researchers note that a “relentless drive” toward academic success can contribute to poor sleep habits that leave students getting way less than the recommended 8 to 10 hours per night. They also hypothesized that this drive might cause the delayed start time to only have fleeting benefits because students would simply begin staying up later. But after nine months, the students reported that the benefits had sustained over the school year.

“These findings suggest that even in East Asia, where many students curtail sleep in the pursuit of academic achievement, and where students’ life satisfaction is the lowest in the world, delaying school start times is feasible and can lead to sustained improvement in students’ sleep and well-being,” the researchers wrote.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

The colossal problem with universal basic income

Here's why universal basic income will hurt the 99%, and make the 1% even richer.

Videos
  • Universal basic income is a band-aid solution that will not solve wealth inequality, says Rushkoff.
  • Funneling money to the 99% perpetuates their roles as consumers, pumping money straight back up to the 1% at the top of the pyramid.
  • Rushkoff suggests universal basic assets instead, so that the people at the bottom of the pyramid can own some means of production and participate in the profits of mega-rich companies.
Keep reading Show less

Top vets urge dog lovers to stop buying pugs and bulldogs

Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds. 

'No nose, no thermoregulation, no health, no welfare.' Photo by terriermandotcom.blogspot.com
popular

Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade, thanks to higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black. We're not ruling it out. These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.

Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less