High school and college students with poor sleep hygiene are more likely to have poor grades, according to research findings discussed at SLEEP 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS). Scientists learned that high school students who preferred to stay up late at night tend to have poor GPAs, upon entering college the problem worsened and continued through their senior year.
Lead researcher and study author Jennifer Peszka, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas said "Sleep hygiene is a set of voluntary behaviors that you can change." She added that "If they are related to college performance, then students could make small changes that can help them do better."
Sleep scientists define "sleep hygiene" as healthy sleeping habits e.g. establishing a sleeping routine and refraining from caffeine consumption later in the day and at night.
Jennifer Peszka, David Hastin, PhD from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and John Harsh, PhD, from the University of Southern Mississippi studied 89 college students who provided the researchers with access to the high school and college academic information. During the summer just before starting their freshman year at college the students completed questionnaires related to their sleep habits, sleep preferences, and how they slept when they were in high school.
The researchers also examined the time of day which people prefer to be awake ("chronotype"). The questionnaires revealed some interesting relationships between academic performance and sleep hygiene.
- Students who preferred to stay up late had lower GPAs transitioning from high school to college and had a lower GPA than college students who went to bed earlier.
- "Evening type" freshman had a GPA of 2.84 which was significantly lower than the combined GPA (3.18) of morning and intermediate types.
- By their senior year of college, students who shifted their sleep preferences to become more like those who didn't stay up late improved their grades.
These findings led Peszka and her colleagues to conclude that students who understood their chronotype and practiced good sleep hygiene could improve their academic performance in school.
What Does The Sleep Study Mean To You?
Peszka's study reveals that poor sleep hygiene is linked to poor academic performance. Poor sleeping habits have long term consequences that go far beyond academic. For example, David Mastin at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock recently discovered that sleep deprived college students were more likely to suffer psychological problems than those who sleep more soundly (read my article "Sleepy College Students Blame Others When Things Go Wrong"). Furthermore, various research, including the Washington Sleep Cohort Study, have found a relationship between weight gain and sleep deprivation (read my article "Get Some Sleep!"), not seen in people who have good sleeping habits.
The good news about Peszka's study is that bad habits can be corrected. Learning how to sleep can have a positive impact on your quality of life. Pay close attention to your sleep rhythms and modify behaviors that hinder your ability to get to sleep on time. You'll be glad that you did.
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American Academy of Sleep Medicine. http://www.aasmnet.org/articles.aspx?id=2328
"Good Sleep Hygiene Can Improve Your Academic Performance, Research Study Finds" copyright 2011 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.