On the naughty step - conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: alarm clocks

Let's face it, no one likes the beep-beep-beep of the alarm. Bleary-eyed, we peer at the bedside clock in horror before hitting snooze. Well, apparently it's even worse for teenagers, who are biologically programmed to rise later in the day than the rest of us.

As a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants to outlaw early starts at schools, stating that no one between the ages of 10 and 18 should have to be in before 8.30am. At the moment, only 15 per cent of US schools start after this time, New Scientist magazine reported this week.

"The demonstrated benefits [of starting later] are widespread and include more sleep, less daytime sleepiness and improvements in academic, health, mood and safety parameters," said Judith Owens, director of Sleep Medicine at Children's National Health System in Washington DC and lead author of the AAP's statement.

A small number of schools in the UK have already experimented with later start times. According to Russell Foster, a neuroscientist from the University of Oxford, 8.30am is an improvement on 8am, but 10am would be even better.

Now we're talking. The school day would have to end later, but what a relaxed and civilized start it would be. Think how wide awake everyone would be in double maths. So, with the weight of science on our side, let's send alarm clocks to the naughty step.

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