Starting school later in the day could improve pupils' concentration levels and help to boost exam results, researchers say.
Scientists at the University of Oxford are to carry out a study to test out this theory. Nearly 32,000 14 to 16-year-olds (years ten and 11) at 106 schools will take part in the project.
The teenagers will be divided into two groups, with one starting school at the usual time and another beginning their day at 10am.
They will also be given sleep education classes to increase their understanding of the benefits of a good night's sleep.
Pupils could be asked to keep diaries to record their slumber and wear biometric devices that monitor their sleeping patterns.
Professor of sleep medicine Colin Espie said developmental changes that occur during the teenage years could lead youngsters to become tired later and remain sleepier in the morning.
"What we're doing in the study is exploring the possibility that if we actually delay the school start time until 10am, instead of 9am or earlier, that additional hour taken on a daily dose over the course of a year will actually improve learning, performance, attainment and in the end school leaving qualifications," he explained.
A trial carried out at Monkseaton High School in North Tyneside in 2009 involved pupils beginning their school day at around 10am.
This led to a significant improvement in GCSE results and was particularly beneficial for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Oxford University study is one of six projects to study how neuroscience can be used to improve teaching and learning in schools. They are being funded by £4 million from the Education Endowment Foundation and science charity the Wellcome Trust.
Other projects will study the effect of fitness levels on learning, how to use the brain's reward system to improve outcomes and how counterintuitive concepts can help people to learn.
Posted by Harriet McGowan