Class before 9 a.m. disrupts sleep and worsens academic performance

The survey assessed the relationship between class start time and student attendance and found a result that many people already knew


Can going to university early harm students’ academic performance and attendance?

The survey assessed the relationship between class start time and student attendance and found a result that many may be familiar with: those that start before 9 a.m. disrupt student sleep and result in lower school attendance rates than those that start later.

At work, researchers analyzed classes from 8am to 4pm and found that attendance at morning classes was about 10% lower. In addition, the proportion of students who woke up after class started at 8:00 AM, leading to them losing time and not following the content, also impaired learning absorption.

The study, published last month in the journal Nature Human Behavior (Nature Group) and conducted by researchers at the Duke-NUS School of Medicine and the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Applied Sciences in Learning and Technology Education; Singapore stresses that universities should avoid requirements to attend classes that start very early, as there is a link with poorer academic performance.

To assess the relationship between school start time and students’ sleep quality, scientists conducted three experiments. The first measured the attendance of more than 23,000 students who attended 337 courses using Wi-Fi access on a university campus.

The frequency of connections was approximately 10% lower when classes started at 8am compared to classes starting at 9am. Scientists claim that Wi-Fi availability and frequency are directly related in almost 100% of cases (0.98, 95% confidence interval).


Then the scientists assessed whether the students attended classes less because they were sleeping. To do this, they assessed 181 students with sleep and activity assessment devices over six weeks. As a result, nearly a third fell asleep after classes started at 8 a.m., and nearly half couldn’t wake up in time to make it to their class.

Finally, the connection between daytime and nighttime sleep (in terms of duration) was established. The researchers found that more early classes led to more frequent naps during class, and that the average daily amount of nighttime sleep was about 17% less for students who started before 9:00 a.m. compared to those who. classes started at night and afternoon classes.

For Luis Eduardo Del-Bem, professor of evolutionary genomics at UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais) and visiting professor at Michigan State University (USA), who did not participate in the research, the article brings several important observations: which can help understand the evolution of human learning.

“The human brain has distinct dynamics of wakefulness and sleep in children, adolescents and adults. “While adults can get fewer hours of sleep and still perform at a high level, we know that’s not how it works for teenagers and young adults,” he says, adding that research shows the cumulative effect of sleep deprivation on academics. performance.


Although students’ grades did not show statistically significant changes with the schedule, content absorption was worse when they started at 8 am. “We, the teachers, know that many times the student is in class even before 9 in the morning, but falls asleep. So, this study is lost,” he says.

In a survey of high schools in Fortaleza, Pedro Burin and his master’s student Felipe Rocha Alves, from the Faculty of Medicine of the UFC (Federal University of Ceará), estimated that morning classes were 48% excessively sleepy. Daytime hours for students compared to afternoons, which also affects young people’s learning and development.

For Del-Behm, these and other studies show that there is an impact, yet to be measured, on the well-being and learning that children and teenagers lose when they are introduced to courses at these times. “How much intellectual development did we lose that could have happened because we forced young people to go to school too early and they did worse,” he concludes.


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