Study Links College Students Grades To Sleep Schedules

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Study Links College Students Grades To Sleep Schedules
image 1 © Jeanette Dietl ; image 2 © peshkova –

Student life may not yield the best examples of the ideal sleeping pattern necessary for optimal physical and mental performance. Just take a look at the typical habits of a college student and you’ll see it’s rife with late night study sessions and cramming (even if they are not partying). As it turns out, late night study might not be doing college students any good, and can actually lead to lower academic performance.

The concept of getting sufficient sleep may not be as simple as getting enough snooze the night before an important exam. Now researchers have evidence stating that the consistency of your sleep-wake cycle is more important than the number of hours you clock in sleeping.

In the study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers analyzed the sleeping patterns of 61 students from Harvard College who kept online diaries for 30 days. The researchers then categorized the participants into two groups: One group was labeled regular sleepers and the other, irregular sleepers. Regular sleepers were the ones who sleep and wake up the same time every day, while the irregulars are the ones who had varying sleeping patterns each day. Next, the researchers used a scoring system to measure the regularity of sleep. They were able to quantify that for every 10 point score on the regularity index translated to an increase of 0.10 in GPA. [1]

Based on the study, researchers stipulate that the reason for the poor academic performance seen in irregular sleepers may be related to the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the body’s pineal gland responsible for the regulation of our sleep and wake cycles. [2]

Normally, melatonin is released during the time we are supposed to sleep, however, in irregular sleepers, the release is pushed back later in the night. This causes confusion in our circadian rhythm. An irregular who wakes up for an 8 a.m. class is actually experiencing a biological time of 5 am, making them lose focus and unable to function at their best.

It is important to note that in the study, there was no difference in the amount of sleep between the two groups, instead, the researchers strongly advises that the secret to getting better sleep is not in the number of sleep hours but on the adherence to a regular bedtime schedule.

Further Reading:

Study Finds Lack Of Sleep May Lead To Brain Shrinkage

This Is What Happens To Your Brain When You Check Your Smartphone Before Sleep

How To Fall Asleep In 60 Seconds Flat


[1] Irregular sleep/wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing. (2017).

[2] What is melatonin?

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