Sleep Experts Say That Work And School Shouldn’t Start Until After 10am

Sleep Experts Say That Work And School Shouldn’t Start Until After 10am

Students, in an age of global competitiveness, can improve themselves by sleeping in late.

That appears to be the conclusions of certain sleep experts who have declared that our entire work and school schedule is out of sync with our internal body clocks. Paul Kelley, who works for the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford, has advocated to the Guardian that schools should not start until 11 am.

So why is Kelley advocating such a late start time? And how could our bodies and society benefit from a world where we sleep more and later?

Society is sleep-deprived

The first thing that needs to be understood is that our sleep problems are not so much when the hours are as the fact that we are not sleeping enough. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “school-age children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, teens need 9-10 hours, and adults need 7-8 hours.”


But instead, nearly 30 percent of adults report an average of less than 6 hours of sleep per day, and only 31 percent of high school students reported getting 8 hours of sleep on an average school night.

Furthermore, much of that sleep we do get is not particularly restful. About 50-70 million Americans have sleep related disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and snoring which affects theirs and others’ abilities to properly fall asleep. And none of this touches onto the fact that our stressful lives also have an effect on our ability to properly sleep.

The consequences of sleep deprivation

A 1995 study on sleep deprivation concluded that “the average reported sleep length of 7.2-7.4 hours is deficient, and common sleep lengths of less than 6.5 hours can be disastrous.” While that may seemingly go too far, the negative effects of sleep deprivation are myriad and especially so on our youth.


Sleep deprivation has consequences beyond yawning a lot or falling asleep during class or work. The CDC estimates that there are 1,550 deaths and 40,000 nonfatal injuries related to vehicular accidents caused every year by drowsy driving.

And for growing teenagers, sleep deprivation has all sorts of physical and mental consequences. The Sleep Foundation has noted that teenage sleep deprivation can lead to an inability to concentrate, poor behavior, excessive food consumption, and even pimples. There are even studies which indicate a tenuous link between sleep deprivation and schizophrenia. Many mental diseases like schizophrenia first appear during one’s teenage years.

Sleep is critical for youth development on a physical, emotional, and mental level. But as noted above, teenagers and adults as a whole are not getting the sleep they need to concentrate on their duties when awake.

The benefits of sleeping late

So the effects of sleep deprivation are clear. But why does this necessarily mean that we should get up later? Could it not be possible to just go to bed earlier?


The problem is that as The Atlantic observes, “Teens stay up later not because they don’t want to go to sleep, but because they can’t.” Teenager have fundamentally different sleep cycles compared to children and adults and may spend all evening on their tablets and all morning sleeping in. Their brains do not release melatonin, a chemical which regulates our sleep cycle, until 11 pm and stop producing it around 8 am. This is about three hours later than adults.

What this means is that when a teenager wakes up at 6 am to go to school, his brain is still producing melatonin which wants him to go to sleep. The result is a sleepy, disgruntled teenager whose mental acuities are not all there.

If the ideal sleep hours of a teenager is from 11 pm to 8 am, than it would be for the best for classes to be made later so that teenagers can get sleep and perform their best in schools. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that middle and high schools should delay the start of their classes to 8:30 am or later. This can help ensure the students will get the 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep which they should have in order to develop their brains.

Final Thoughts

There is a gap between starting school at 8:30 and starting it at 11, and perhaps Kelley’s desire may be a bit extreme. But the science shows that society could benefit from starting later and ensuring that everyone, especially our youth, gets enough sleep.


It should be remembered that our educational system times were set in an age where children would have to work on the farm or elsewhere, which would encourage schools to let the kids out early so they could do their chores while it was still daylight. We have managed to move on from such an age. It is time that we adjust our clocks as well.

Featured photo credit: Megan Schüirmann via

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Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.


     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.


    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence


      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.


      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]


      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.


        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.


          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]



          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via


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