Ask most college students and they’ll tell you they’ve pulled an all-nighter studying for a test at least once, if not hundreds of times. Well, it turns out those extra hours staying up late probably didn’t help their GPA at all. A new study published in the journal “Scientific Reports” suggests that grades suffer when students don’t keep a consistent sleep pattern every day.
The study looked at 61 Harvard College students, asking them to keep a 30-day online diary of their sleep schedules.
- In general, the students fell into two groups, regular sleepers who had a specific time that they woke up and went to bed each day, and irregular sleepers, whose sleep pattern was constantly different.
- The students’ sleep regularity was then scored on a scale of zero to 100, with irregular sleepers getting lower scores and what they found that for every ten points that score went up, students saw an average increase of .10 in their GPA, which means those with low sleep scores also had low GPAs.
Irregular sleep can affect a person’s circadian clock and irregular sleepers had circadian rhythms that were off by almost three hours. Making matters worse, irregular sleepers also got less exposure to light during the day, but more at night, which also throws off the circadian clock.
But what the study isn’t saying is that college kids need to go to bed early, just that they need to be consistent with their sleep pattern. “The results of this study are not suggesting everybody has to be a goody-two-shoes,” study author Dr. Charles Czeisler explains. “So if you go to bed at 2 and get up at 9, that's fine. You just have to consistently do the same thing."