Less sleep linked to lower grades

By Assistant Sports & Health Editor

A SEPT. 22 study from researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden found that students who sleep fewer than seven hours a night are at an increased risk of academic failure.

Christian Benedict, an associ- ate professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala, along with other researchers, tested more than 20,000 students ages 12–19 and found that the reports of sleep disturbance and habitually sleeping for shorter periods of time were linked to a higher chance of students experiencing academic failures in school.

Benedict said when students did not pass one subject in school, they were considered as having heightened risk of failure. But he said the team has not specified the particular subject in which the students failed.

Benedict said previous studies have shown that sleep is integral to the ability to consolidate newly acquired memory.

“[Sleep] plays an important role for your ability to gain [more] insight,” Benedict said. “If you expose yourself to a problem, it is quite effective to sleep afterwards because sleep promotes greater insight, [which] means [it] can help you to solve this problem.”

Benedict said when people sleep, their brains can more easily filter out nonessential occurrences that happen during the day.

“Sleep is an important piece when your brain has the chance to recover from all these daytime experiences that you have [been] exposed to,” Benedict said. “You recover from this, you downscale all the stuff [that] you [do] not really need that is not of relevance for your future behavior, and this allows you to also perform well the next day.”

Benedict said youth today often use electronic devices, which cause major emotional engagement that reduces the ability to sleep.

He said young people use smartphones to stay informed, but using the devices in their before-bed routines can impair their ability to fall asleep.

Several Columbia students said they believe the lack of sleep negatively impacts students’ academic performance and more.

Ibrahim Samra, a freshman journalism major, said he thinks it is vital that students get the proper amount of rest to ensure their academic performance will not be compromised.

“[Students who] do not get enough sleep will be sleeping through their classes, and that will affect their focus, which will affect their grade,” Samra said.

Samra said he has personally experienced the struggles that come with inadequate rest. During his sophomore year of high school, Samra said he did not get enough sleep, which was reflected in his academic performance.

“I felt like the lack of sleep affected the way I performed, and when I had [good] sleep, I felt like I could perform well,” Samra said. “I was going through a tough moment, and [when] you can’t sleep and then [have to get up] the next day, it’s hard to perform because you don’t have that energy or the will.”

Samra said he has learned to manage his schedule between school and work.

“On school days, I usually try not to work,” Samra said. “I try to schedule to not have work on those days so I can stay focused and energized for the following day, but I usually work weekends.”

Joseph Arenson, a freshman photography major, said he thinks adjusting to college right after high school is stressful.

During this semester, Arenson said he missed the second day of his “Darkroom Dynamics” class because he did not get enough sleep the night before.

He said if he gets the proper amount of rest throughout the night, then he is able to concentrate during school hours.

Benedict said while the average person should sleep 7–8 hours, some people can still cope with less.

“For the average person, you would say yes, they should sleep at least 7–8 hours, or if they are even slightly younger they should sleep 8–9 hours,” Benedict said. “But for an individual, it might even be that they can cope with shorter time periods.”

He said that some people even can go to bed early in the evening and others tend to go to bed late in the evening based on their genetic background.

“One issue is that school usually starts in the morning,” Benedict said. “So all those who have—based on their genetics—more late evening types of sleep habits have an issue because they have to get up in the morning and by this, you deprive them [of ] sleep.”

Benedict said getting proper rest will help keep students focused and enable their brains to function properly.

“A regular good night’s sleep will help you to keep memories and to keep your brain healthy,” he said.