Studying at a college or university is not an easy test for young people. During the first semester, many of them sacrifice a night’s sleep to study, chat with friends, or simply relax with a movie. However, sleep is an important component of our performance, and it is definitely not worth neglecting it, especially during study.
Doctors recommend that teenagers and young people get eight to ten hours of sleep a night, but many students sleep much less, and even irregularly, grabbing half an hour of rest right during class. To evaluate how sleep duration affects the quality of learning, a team of researchers from several US research centers used Fitbit sleep trackers . The scientists collected data from 600 first-year students and then assessed their academic performance. The results are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .
Previous animal experiments have shown that sleep plays an important role in reinforcing daytime memories. Violation of the normal mode of night rest leads to the fact that the acquired knowledge is “erased” from memory. The first-year students who participated in the study slept much less than the recommended amount – an average of about 6.5 hours. But their grades at the end of the semester remained more or less high, unless the student decided to further neglect his health and sleep less than six hours a night.
Dividing the students into groups according to the number of hours they slept and calculating the average final grade in each group, the researchers found that the more students spent time sleeping, the better their final grades were. The effect, albeit small (those who averaged one hour more sleep had a 0.07-point higher final score), was equally distributed across students at the three schools and was independent of school performance, student race and gender, and the level of teaching load in a particular college.
In other words, despite the common belief among students that spending the night sleeping is too boring, the results of the study prove that neglecting normal rest can negatively affect overall academic performance and lower final grades.