Academic Performance Linked to Sleep Routines
Researchers have already proven that teens who are not getting enough sleep are more likely to be overweight, become depressed, use drugs, take risks, suffer from colds and viruses, and perform poorly in school. But, a new study released in the journal Scientific Reports (6/12/17) found that students who do not have regular sleep schedules (go to bed and wake up at consistent times every day) were more likely to have lower grades.
In the study, based on current college students attending Harvard, researchers identified two groups: regular sleepers, or those who went to bed and woke up about the same time every day, and irregular sleepers, who had different sleep patterns every day. Regular sleepers consistently performed better academically than the students with irregular sleep schedules.
An inconsistent sleep schedule disrupts our natural circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm, or ‘body clock,’ is a cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, wake up, eat, and other physiological processes. This internal body clock is affected by environmental cues, like sunlight and temperature. Researchers noted that when circadian rhythms are disrupted, it impacts our health and mental state.
Interestingly, the study did not show that the amount of sleep the students got impacted their grades. It appears that academic success was not related to an early bedtime or the number of sleep hours a student received, but rather the regularity of their routine. College students could go to bed at 2 am and wake up at 9 am, as long as they were consistent about those times daily.
Parents should talk to their teens about the importance of sleep and the consequences of not enough sleep and/or irregular sleep patterns.
Many parents are facing the prospect of their teens heading to college shortly. The researchers suggested the following actions for college students to follow a regular sleep schedule:
- Determine a reasonable sleeping and waking time for yourself, and then stick to it.
- Sign up for classes around the same time every day.
- Maintain a consistent sleeping schedule even on the weekends.