Pupils more alert in the afternoon, study finds

According to a University of Oxford and BBC study, children aged nine to 11 have reported feeling less sleepy in the afternoon.

The results are said to contradict current thinking that children are in fact more alert in the morning.

A lot of primary schools create timetables with the belief that children are more focused and open to learning in the morning and therefore tend to teach maths and literacy lessons before lunch.

However, the research reports that children report feeling less tired in the afternoon than in the morning and their reaction times in tests are faster later in the school day.

Thousands of children aged nine to 11 in schools across the UK took part in the survey, designed by researchers from the University of Oxford working with a BBC project called BBC Terrific Scientific which aims to involve children directly in scientific research.

They were asked to keep a sleep diary for three days before and after the clocks changed in March and took part in a series of tests designed to measure both their tiredness and reaction times in the morning and afternoon.

The research found that after the clocks changed sleep time increased by around 30 minutes and sleepiness reduced.

In addition to this, it found that the children reacted quicker in the afternoon, irrespective of clock change.

Almost seven in 10 of the children who took part (68 per cent) described themselves as being more of an “evening type”, with greater energy levels and higher alertness later in the day. They were also sleepier in the morning than the afternoon.

Read more