Good grades need their beauty sleep

By TaylorGleason

A recent study confirmed what most college students already know—staying up late makes waking up and performing well in class very difficult.

More than 800 college students at Northern Texas University participated in a study that compared their preference to being awake at night versus in the morning, with grades earned over the course of a year. The results are in the process of being published.

“Students with an evening preference had significantly lower GPAs at the end of the year,” said Adam Bramoweth, a graduate student who coordinated the study.

The study found that night-owl students earned an average score of 2.65 on their GPA, while the morning people earned an average GPA score of 3.05.

Daniel Taylor, the NTU professor who conducted the study, said genetics may play a role in a person’s sleep pattern, but it’s mostly a behavior habit, especially for college students.

“College students have to stay up late [working on homework],” Bramoweth said. “They have early classes [and] oftentimes are sleep deprived, which can lead to late afternoon naps, delaying their ability to fall asleep when they’d like to.”

College students also stay out late on weekends, Taylor said, and while some people can easily switch back to a weekday sleep schedule, it proves more difficult for others.

Bramoweth said that there are long-term ramifications for students who don’t have a healthy sleeping pattern because their low grades will affect their chances of getting a job or being accepted into graduate school.

Taylor added, “There are also [physical] and mental health consequences related to evening types.”

Bramoweth went on to explain that preferences for the night or the morning change through life’s seasons. He said everyone varies, but usually children go to bed early and wake up early, while those in early adolescence develop a taste for staying up late and sleeping late. College-aged people are in a time of transition between adolescence and adulthood when, Bramoweth said, people finally return to the pattern of sleeping and waking early.

One exception to the rule is Victoria Swanson, a junior film and video major at Columbia, who said she has never needed much sleep.

Swanson said of her night-owl habits that often keep her awake until five in the morning, “I could go to bed, I just don’t want to. I like to walk and read a lot.”

But when questioned about the effects of her sleeping pattern on her grades, Swanson said she normally earns As and Bs. She said she is not concerned about her performance in school.

“You have to work within your limitations,” Swanson said. “Sleeping in is a sacrifice to your future and potential career and your schoolwork.”

Swanson said that she can still focus well in class on little amounts of sleep, but not all students can perform well under circumstances like her, and she said she believes they are irresponsible if their grades suffer from staying awake too late.

“You have to know yourself,” Swanson said about maintaining an irregular sleep pattern, “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think I could get away with it … I tend to pick early morning classes because it makes me get up. I like to be productive as well.”

Swanson is indeed a unique case, because as Bramoweth said, most people are actually somewhere in the middle of being a night person and a morning person.

“We found a fairly equal distribution [in the study] between morning students and evening students, with the majority of our sample being intermediate,” Bramoweth said. “And that reflects what I think you’ll find in the general population.”

Taylor said this study was preceded by five years of preliminary surveys that were sent out across the NTU campus. He said the resulting correlations between sleep patterns and GPAs were “somewhat expected” based on the habits he observed in students before the official study. To those who may be discouraged about their personal routine and performance in school, Taylor said that everyone can change their sleep patterns.

Bramoweth also suggested that “students that find themselves struggling with sleep in college should seek help and learn methods to improve their sleep habits, which can lead to better academic performance.”