A recent study has shown that school children are more alert and have quicker reaction times in the afternoon. These findings go against previous thinking which believed that children are more open to learning earlier in the day. Many schools plan lessons around children being more focused in the morning with maths and literary lessons being taught before lunch.

Less sleepy after lunch

According to research children report feeling less sleepy in the afternoon than in the morning. Their reaction times in tests are also faster later in the school day. The study was designed by University of Oxford working with a BBC project called Terrific Scientific. The survey included hundreds of children aged nine to 11 in schools across the UK.

Increased sleep time after clock change

Children kept a sleep diary for three days before and after the clocks changed in March. In addition the children took part in tests designed to measure tiredness and reaction times in the morning and afternoon. The study found that sleep time increased by 30 minutes and sleepiness reduced after the clocks went forward. It also showed that the children reacted quicker in the afternoon regardless of clock change. 68% of the children who took part described themselves as being more of an “evening type” with higher energy levels and alertness later in the day. Those children were also sleepier in the morning than the afternoon.

Most students getting enough sleep

The study found that the children slept more than nine hours 30 minutes on average suggesting pupils are getting the recommended amount of sleep which is between 9 and 11 hours. Following the clock change, researchers found the children woke up on average 10 minutes later in the morning. This could be due to them compensating for the loss of an hour when clocks go forward for British Summer Time.

Researchers said the study was based on a large, representative sample of 9-11-year-old schoolchildren across the UK.

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