Previous studies have shown that total sleep is an important predictor for a wide range of health and performance outcomes.
Many college students experience irregular and insufficient sleep.
in psychology and neuroscience at the Dietrich College of the Humanities and Social Sciences, William S. Dietrich II Professor David Cresswell led a team of researchers to evaluate the relationship between sleep and GPA. College students often push themselves to achieve, and GPA is an important indicator of academic success.
“Animal studies have shown how important sleep is for learning and memory,” Cresswell said. Here we show how this work translates to humans. A first-year college student gets fewer nights of sleep at the beginning of the school term predicts a lower GPA at the end of the term, some five to nine weeks later. Lack of sleep can harm students’ ability to learn in college classes.”
Previous work with animals has shown that memories formed during the day are consolidated during sleep. When normal sleep patterns are disrupted, material learned during the day is lost. Extending this reasoning to students, the researchers were curious whether disrupted or insufficient sleep could impair their academic learning and whether this would be evident in their academic achievement.
The study evaluated more than 600 first-year students across five studies at three universities. The students wore a wrist-worn Fitbit device to monitor and record their sleep patterns. Researchers found that the students in the study slept an average of 6.5 hours a night.
What are the effects of lack of sleep?
More surprising, the researchers found that students who got less than six hours of sleep experienced a marked decline in academic performance. Furthermore, each hour of sleep loss corresponded to a 0.07 decrease in GPA at the end of term.
“Once you start getting less than six hours, you start to accumulate massive sleep debt, which can wreak havoc on a student’s health and study habits,” Cresswell said. “What was most surprising to me was that whatever we did to reverse the effect, it persisted.”
The study controlled for previous academic performance, daytime naps, race, gender and first-generation status. Several studies also controlled for total academic course load. None of these factors influenced the overall effect of a night’s sleep on GPA.
sleep to win
“A popular belief among college students is to study more or party more to get a sleepless night,” Cresswell said. Our work here suggests that there are potentially real costs to cutting down on your night’s sleep on your ability to learn and achieve in college. There’s real value in budgeting for the importance of a night’s sleep.”
This work suggests the importance of building structured programs and interventions into institutions of learning that encourage graduate students to focus on their sleep.Life Style