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Teens, Study and Lost Sleep - The Link with Academic Success

A new longitudinal study out of the U.S. finds that if teenagers give up sleep in order to do extra study, the student is more likely to have academic performance problems the following day.

Sacrificing sleep for extra study time is counterproductive,” says Andrew J. Fuligni, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and a senior scientist at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, who worked on the study.  The study of 535 students in 9th, 10th and 12th grades in Los Angeles-area high schools found that diminishing sleep in order to study was actually associated with doing more poorly on a test, quiz, or homework. The negative dynamic was observed more in students in the latter part of high school, as their habit of sacrificing sleep for study became more prevalent.

Professor Fuligni points out that the study’s findings do not suggest that teenagers should spend less time studying overall.  He says, “Academic success may depend on finding strategies to avoid having to give up sleep to study, such as maintaining a consistent study schedule across days, using school time as efficiently as possible, and sacrificing time spent on other, less essential activities.”

The study can be read in the Child Development Journal, Volume 84, Issue 1, To Study or to Sleep? The Academic Costs of Extra Studying at the Expense of Sleep by Gillen-O’Neel, C, Huynh, VW, and Fuligni, AJ (University of California, Los Angeles).

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