Pulling all nighters or partying until the sun comes up are experiences many of us associate with the college years. But according to a new study, behaviors like this that lead to wonky sleep habits can take a toll on grade point averages and impair a student’s ability to take tests and get important homework done.
Health Day reports about the study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston that suggests altered sleep patterns can have a negative impact on college grades. Even if university students are getting the suggested 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, if they aren’t going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day, their grades can take a real hit. The study’s lead author, Andrew Phillips, explains the importance of sleep patterns. He says, “Our results indicate that going to sleep and waking up at approximately the same time is as important as the number of hours one sleeps.”
When taking part in college related activities like parties, all-night study sessions or just dealing with loud roommates - following the same sleep pattern on a daily basis can prove difficult for college kids. For those with more irregular sleep patterns, it seems that the sleep hormone known as melatonin may be getting released later and later. Phillips explains, “We found that the body clock was shifted nearly three hours later in students with irregular schedules, as compared to those who slept at more consistent times each night.”
This change in the release of melatonin can make it very difficult for students to wake up and be at their best for classes in the morning, even when they get the suggested amount of sleep. Phillips says, “For the students whose sleep and wake times were inconsistent, classes and exams that were scheduled for 9 a.m. were therefore occurring at 6 a.m. according to their body clock, at a time when performance is impaired.”
Some ways to combat irregular sleep patterns is to make sure to expose yourself to a lot of daytime sun if possible and stay away from light emitting computers and gadgets before bed. Skipping a late night party here and there may not hurt either.
What do you think of the new study that suggests irregular sleep patterns may have a negative impact on college grades?
Do you notice a difference in your performance when you are not following a regular sleep pattern?