Nightly sleep is key to student success
A multi-institutional team of researchers conducted the first study to evaluate how the duration of nightly sleep early in the semester affects first year college students’ end-of-semester grade point average (GPA).
Using Fitbit sleep trackers, they found that students on average sleep 6.5 hours a night, but negative outcomes accumulate when students received less than six hours of sleep a night.
The results are available in the Feb. 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Sleep guidelines recommend teenagers get 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night, but many college students experience irregular and insufficient sleep.
David Creswell, the William S. Dietrich II Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience at the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, led a team of researchers to evaluate the relationship between sleep and GPA.
“Animal studies have shown how critical sleep is for learning and memory,” said Creswell. "Here we show how this work translates to humans. The less nightly sleep a first-year college student gets at the beginning of the school term predicts lower GPA at the end of the term. Lack of sleep may be hurting students’ ability to learn in their college classrooms.”
The study evaluated more than 600 first-year students across five studies at three universities.
The students wore wrist Fitbit devices to monitor and record their sleep patterns.
The researchers found that students in the study sleep on average 6.5 hours a night.
More surprisingly, the researchers found that students who receive less than six hours of sleep experienced a pronounced decline in academic performance.
In addition, each hour of sleep lost corresponded to a 0.07 decrease in the end-of-term GPA.
“Once you start dipping below six hours, you are starting to accumulate massive sleep debt that can impair a student’s health and study habits, compromising the whole system,” said Creswell. “Most surprising to me was that no matter what we did to make the effect go away, it persisted.”
克雷斯维尔说：“一旦你的睡眠时间开始低于 6 小时，就会开始积累大量的睡眠债，这会损害学生的健康和学习习惯，从而危及全局。最令我惊讶的是，无论我们采取什么措施来消除这种影响，它都会持续存在。”
“A popular belief among college students is that one should value studying more or partying more over nightly sleep,” said Creswell. "Our work here suggests that there are potentially real costs from reducing your nightly sleep on your ability to learn and achieve in college. There’s real value in budgeting for the importance of nightly sleep.”