Sleep and Academic Performance

The average amount of hours of sleep an adult should be getting is seven to nine hours. There are many benefits of sleep such as reduced stress levels, improved memory, improved concentration, productivity, and learning efficacy. Several studies have attempted to pinpoint the relationship of sleep and learning efficiency but it still remains unclear. In 2012, at King Saud University College of Medicine, a cross-sectional study was conducted to evaluate sleep habits, wake habits, and academic performance in medical students. Students who qualified for the study were divided into two groups, categorized by a GPA greater than 3.75 and less than 3.75. A self-administered questionnaire assessed student factors such as demographics, sleep patterns, and caffeine intake. Students with a GPA greater than 3.75 exhibited earlier bedtimes and more total sleep time compared to the average group. The results indicated that late bedtimes, decreased nighttime sleep had effects on students’ abilities to stay awake and focus during the day, therefore negatively impacting his or her academic performance.

This study is relevant to medical students globally because the constant demand to perform well academically can impact sleep. It is not uncommon to see students pull all-nighters or not stick to a sleep routine to get the extra hours of studying. However, this is a concerning topic to be addressed when medical students are seeking ways to improve his or her health and academic performance. Not only does lack of sleep impact the health of the brain, but it may also lead to depression of which already has increased risk in medical students. Mayo Clinic suggested some ways to improve sleep habits are:

 • Follow a sleep schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. 

 • Ensure an ideal sleep environment – a quiet, dark and cool room with limited lights. 

 • Limit day time naps to 30 minutes – this may affect your night time sleep cycle.

Bahammam AS, Alaseem AM, Alzakri AA, Almeneessier AS, Sharif MM. The relationship between sleep and wake habits and academic performance in medical students: a cross-sectional study. BMC Med Educ. 2012;12:61. Published 2012 Aug 1. doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-61

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