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Early Morning Classes Are Bad for College Students, Study Says

Some neuroscientists want universities to schedule classes later so you won't have to wake up to catch that 8 AM.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Foto via Flickr, utilizador reynermedia

Aside from the fact that early classes are the worst, a recent study found that they can actually be detrimental to your learning ability—so much so that some researchers are pushing colleges to start scheduling classes later in the day, NPR reports.

The study, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience this month, found most college students don't stop being complete zombies until about 10 or 11 AM, an ideal time to offer the first classes of the day. Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno and the UK's Open University quizzed 190 freshmen and sophomores on their sleep schedules and productivity to determine how well their brains function at different times of the day.


The researchers discovered that a vast majority of college-aged kids aren't programmed to use their brains early in the morning and consider themselves night owls, and biology is to blame.

"There has been evidence over time from specific studies indicating that teenagers's body clocks are set at a different time than older folks," Professor Mariah Evans, a co-author of the study, told NPR. "It has nothing to do with laziness. It's not in their control. It's to do with their bodies."

In other words, asking a kid to get up at 7:30 AM and go listen to some old dude talk about fur trading on the Silk Road is basically the same thing as forcing an adult to wake up for work at 5 AM.

Scientists have advised middle and high schools to push back the beginning of the school day for years, and it only makes sense that college kids—many of whom are still teens—would benefit from the same thing.

"We want the students to learn," said Evans. "We go to great lengths to increase academic performance with methods that are less effective than the free solution of just changing the timings."

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