Starting times of school: effects on daytime functioning of fifth-grade children in Israel

Sleep. 1998 May 1;21(3):250-6. doi: 10.1093/sleep/21.3.250.


In the present study we investigated the effects of school starting time on daytime behavior and sleep. Eight-hundred and eleven 5th grade pupils (10-12 years old) from 28 classes in 18 schools throughout Israel were divided into "early risers" (N = 232) who started school at 07:10 (42%) at least 2 times a week, and "regular risers" (N = 340) who always started school at 08:00 (58%). The remaining 239 pupils started school between 7:20 and 07:55 (and also after 08:00), and were not included in the study. Self-administered questionnaires concerning sleep habits during school days, weekends, and holidays, daytime fatigue, sleepiness, and difficulties concentrating and paying attention in school were completed by all children. Mean sleep time of the "early risers" was significantly shorter than that of the "regular risers." Early risers complained significantly more about daytime fatigue and sleepiness, and about attention and concentration difficulties in school. Their complaints were independent of the reported hours of sleep. We conclude that early starting of school negatively affects total sleep time and, as a consequence, has a negative effect on daytime behavior. The implications of these findings to the ongoing controversy concerning sleep need in contemporary society are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Culture
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors