Logo Logo

Biller, Anna M.; Molenda, Carmen; Obster, Fabian; Zerbini, Giulia; Förtsch, Christian; Roenneberg, Till; Winnebeck, Eva C. ORCID: 0000-0002-0717-9432 (2022): A 4-year longitudinal study investigating the relationship between flexible school starts and grades. Scientific Reports, 12: 3178. ISSN 2045-2322

[thumbnail of s41598-022-06804-5.pdf] Published Article

The publication is available under the license Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB)


The mismatch between teenagers’ late sleep phase and early school start times results in acute and chronic sleep reductions. This is not only harmful for learning but may reduce career prospects and widen social inequalities. Delaying school start times has been shown to improve sleep at least short-term but whether this translates to better achievement is unresolved. Here, we studied whether 0.5–1.5 years of exposure to a flexible school start system, with the daily choice of an 8 AM or 8:50 AM-start, allowed secondary school students (n = 63–157, 14–21 years) to improve their quarterly school grades in a 4-year longitudinal pre-post design. We investigated whether sleep, changes in sleep or frequency of later starts predicted grade improvements. Mixed model regressions with 5111–16,724 official grades as outcomes did not indicate grade improvements in the flexible system per se or with observed sleep variables nor their changes—the covariates academic quarter, discipline and grade level had a greater effect in our sample. Importantly, our finding that intermittent sleep benefits did not translate into detectable grade changes does not preclude improvements in learning and cognition in our sample. However, it highlights that grades are likely suboptimal to evaluate timetabling interventions despite their importance for future success.

View Item
View Item