Adding to the Debate on When Classes Should Start

One of my favorite things about Marlborough is that our schedule varies from day to day. I never have the same class in the morning, so I am not 5 minutes late to the same class every day. But more importantly, the shifting schedule makes it so I don't have to worry about my performance in my morning class being affected by the fact that I'm not always fully awake first period--as I know I'll have that class in the afternoon later in the week.

According to UC Berkeley, this is a common phenomenon. New research suggests that schedules that aren’t tailored to our own circadian rhythms, or biological clocks, may be hindering our ability to do well. The study tracked almost 15,000 college students and found that those who claimed to be "night owls" experienced a sort of "jet lag" in their morning classes, hindering their performance--and vice-versa for those in their afternoon classes who claimed to be "early birds". 

However, the study found that the students who replicated their school-day schedule on weekends (i.e. woke and went to sleep at the same time everyday) were more likely to get rid of their "jet-lag" and perform well academically.

This research suggests that helping students reach their optimal performance isn't as easy as encouraging earlier bedtimes or having later start times, since each student's "best" or" most alert" occurs at a different time. The extra ten minutes before class added in the morning this year at Marlborough was certainly helpful for me, but the more permanent solution may be an individualized education system where "early birds" take their classes at the beginning of the day and "night owls" towards the end.  


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