College students might stay up late or have an erratic sleep schedule for a variety of reasons.
A recent study looked at the impact of sleep pattern on grades.
Who was studied? (1,2)
- 61 undergraduate students at Harvard college
- They were asked to keep a sleep diary for 30 days.
What did the investigators find? (1,2)
Compared to peers, students reporting irregular patterns of sleep and wakefulness had:
- Lower grade point averages.
- Delays in the times people went to bed and woke up compared to more normal sleep/wake times.
- Upto 3 hour delay in melatonin (sleep related hormone) release compared to students with regularly scheduled sleep and wakefulness pattern.
What are some caveats?
- Poor sleep can impact almost every aspect of health and many parts of brain functioning, including learning, remembering, mood, energy level, decision making, etc.
- This is a small study and does not prove cause-and-effect (2).
- Students with erratic sleep schedules ended up sleeping the same number of hours as those with a regular sleep schedule. (1,2).
- Study participants might have an erratic sleep schedule for a variety of reasons.
What are some ways of improving sleep?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests the following ways to improve sleep (3):
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
- Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
- Plan to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
- Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
- If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
- Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
- Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
- Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
- Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
- Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
- Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.
- Some people may need to eliminate caffeine or alcohol completely.
- If you have to use electronics in the evenings, consider BLUEBLOCKERS.
Consider seeking professional help:
OSU Counseling and Consultation Service
OSU Wilce Student health center
How is your sleep? How are your grades?
By R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.
- Phillips AJK, Clerx WM, O’Brien CS, et al. Irregular sleep/wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing. Scientific Reports. 2017;7:3216. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03171-4.