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Sleep and Breathing

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 71–75 | Cite as

Early to bed, early to rise! Sleep habits and academic performance in college students

  • Arne H. Eliasson
  • Christopher J. Lettieri
  • Arn H. Eliasson
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

Prior studies have placed emphasis on the need for adequate total sleep time for student performance. We sought to investigate the relative importance of total sleep time compared to the timing of sleep and wakefulness for academic performance.

Methods

We performed a questionnaire-based survey of college students in October 2007. The questionnaire gathered detailed information on sleep habits including naps, reasons for missing sleep, academic performance, study habits, time spent working outside of school, and stimulant use.

Results

Compared to those with the lowest academic performance, students with the highest performance had significantly earlier bedtimes (p = 0.05) and wake times (p = 0.008). Napping tended to be more common among high performers (p = 0.07). Of importance, there were no significant differences in total sleep time with or without naps, weekend sleep habits, study time, gender, race, reasons for staying up at night, nor in use of caffeinated beverages, over-the-counter stimulant pills, or use of prescription stimulants.

Conclusions

Timing of sleep and wakefulness correlated more closely with academic performance than total sleep time and other relevant factors. These findings have important implications for programs intended to improve academic performance by targeting sleep habits of students.

Keywords

Academic performance Total sleep time Bed time Wake time Circadian rhythm 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Professor Sharon Ward and Dr. Aram Hessami for their expertise in helping develop the questionnaire. We also thank Dr. Shweta Sen for her administrative guidance. We thank all three professors for their invaluable contribution with the distribution and collection of the questionnaire survey.

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Copyright information

© US Government 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arne H. Eliasson
    • 1
  • Christopher J. Lettieri
    • 2
  • Arn H. Eliasson
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Scholars ProgramMontgomery CollegeRockvilleUSA
  2. 2.Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of MedicineWalter Reed Army Medical CenterWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Pulmonary ServiceWalter Reed Army Medical CenterSilver SpringUSA

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