The University Network

Want Better Grades? Sleep In!

If you’re looking to improve your GPA, sleeping in might help. University of Nevada, Reno teamed up with The Open University in the UK to conduct a study that found taking classes later in the day results in better school performance.  

In a two-method study, both universities found that the prime optimal functioning times for students are between the hours of 11 a.m. and noon, regardless of chronotype or sleep pattern. Since everyone has a different chronotype, there isn’t a universal time when someone’s cognitive skills are at their finest.

One hundred and ninety of mostly first and second-year college students’ self-reported chronotypes from a survey were collected and analyzed to determine best times when cognitive performances can be expected. The study also conducted synthesized research in sleep, circadian neuroscience, and the impact of sleep deprivation on cognition. The combined results align with each other and confirm the advantage of later start times.  

Most students overwhelmingly agreed that their optimal functionality is later in the morning. Even those who self-reported that they were typically morning people, listed that their peak functionality falls between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon. Of those surveyed, morning people were overwhelmingly outnumbered 2:1 by those who considered themselves “probably evening or definitely evening people.”

The studies’ authors, Mariah Evans and Jonathan Kelley, sociology professors at University of Nevada, and Paul Kelley, honorary associate of sleep, circadian and memory neuroscience at The Open University, concluded that in the best interest of students, schools should encourage students to take later classes and reconstruct their class times.

The study cites other data, like that published by the Centers for Disease Control suggesting that high schools shouldn’t start earlier than 8:30 a.m., to back up evidence that later start times are beneficial for all students. Evans even suggested that schools should encourage students to take evening and online classes to benefit their grades.

Scheduling options made available at schools can help improve the overall performance of all of their students. The addition of more afternoon and evening class options can benefit all chronotypes.

But some students don’t have the luxury of much availability to work with when making their schedules. According to a 2015 study by Georgetown University, 14 million young adults work while taking classes. About one quarter of the students who work while attending school are simultaneously full-time students and workers.

The high number of working students in college is an obstacle when it comes to setting up school schedules that will benefit their academic performance, because working students don’t have the luxury of sleeping in. Availability of classes and class space are other obstacles standing in the way of achieving the most beneficial schedule. Many employed students are working their way through college and can’t spare work hours for later classes.

Despite factors that prevent students from sleeping in, students can achieve the same outcome by developing healthy sleeping habits. If you can’t sleep in, you should improve the way you sleep to make up for the lack of a late start to your day.

Here are two great resources that list ways in which you can get your sleep on track, so sleeping in would not be the only way to achieve better grades.

1] 10 Ways To Help You Fall Asleep

2] How To Get The Best Sleep In College