With students suffering from sleep deprivation during the school year, many are wondering if sleep affects grades.
By Zach Backiewicz
Teenagers are falling short on the desired amount of sleep and it has become a considerable issue for busy students. While sleep is necessary for all ages, it is especially important for teenagers since they are at an important stage of their growth and development. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens should sleep between 8 and 10 hours each night, but studies from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital show the average is around 6-to-7 hours per night. This lack of sleep in students have been proven to be detrimental to many aspects of daily life, especially school performance.
Such a sleep deprivation for hundreds of thousands of adolescents not only affects their daily lives but more importantly their grades and performance in school. Provided below will be graphs and analysis to explore if sleep has a substantial impact on students grades and school performance.
Scientific Background Information
Penn State University and the University of St. Paul of Minnesota conducted an experiment and concluded that lack of sleep doesn’t seem to just have a negative effect on grades, but learning as a whole. Studies suggest that the amount and quality of sleep a person gets are directly related to how well they learn and remember information. One of the reasons scientist believe this to be true is that a person who is lacking sleep has a harder time focusing on information being provided. Another reason is that the sleep deprivation affects a person’s memory. Memory is generally broken up into three parts consisting of acquisition, consolidation, and recall. A lack of sleep negatively affects all three of these processes. Overall, sleep deprivation impacts the most important areas of the brain for school performance and when these specific areas are not functioning properly, students school performance will not be at their maximum.
487 Upper Arlington High School students were asked to participate in a survey about their sleep habits and school performance. The survey consisted of questions such as the student’s average amount of sleep per night, their grade point averages and other questions based on sleep and school work. Students were asked to respond truthfully to ensure the most accurate data was being collected.
After conducting my personal survey for the students of the high school, the results are nothing that I wasn’t expecting. After surveying roughly 500 students, seventy percent said they felt like they didn’t get enough sleep per night on average. This is not shocking because over 50% of students said they have 1-3 hours of homework per night, along with athletics and other extracurricular that create a very slim amount of time to for students to complete their necessary work. In the high school, well over half of the students say they receive between 5-7 hours of sleep typically. Most students are receiving much less than the recommened hours of sleep. This is a problem. Surprisingly, while looking over the average grade point average, it was relatively high. Many other factors suggest higher grade point averages such as genetics, work ethic, and strength of course schedule. In general, students who sleep the most usually receive higher grades.
Below are two graphs, showing the average hours of sleep students received per night. On the right, the graph shows the average hours of sleep for students who have a grade point average of a 4.0 or above. The left graph shows the average hours of sleep for students with a grade point average of 3.3 or below. Students who are receiving a 4.0 are getting sleep in the recommended amount with the average being 6-7 hours on average. Students receiving lower grades had relatively lower amounts of sleep and most students are receiving below 5 hours of sleep on average. The graphs show that students who typically got more sleep usually got higher grades than those who got less sleep. Though this isn’t accurate for all students, as a whole it is clear that sleep is an important factor for grades and school performance.
Amount of schoolwork for students
According to a recent survey of teachers conducted by the University of Phoenix College of Education students nowadays are spending significantly more time on homework assignments with the type and quality of the assignments having changed to better capture critical thinking skills and higher levels of learning. In 2014, the average amount of homework for students per week was 17.5 compared to 7 hours in 2011(Study from the National Center for Education Statistics). Students often complain that the amount of work load they receive is excessive. For students taking advanced courses such as honors, AP, and IB courses, they should expect high amounts of homework. While homework has been proven to be beneficial, it also causes a large workload for students in which can lead to sleep deprivation and detrimental effcts in school performance.
Overall, the findings and research show that sleep is a very important factor for school performance. Though it may not drastically change a student’s grade point average(it still could depending on the student), it does help with a student’s overall school performance. Sleep helps with memorization, the ability to pay attention and overall mood towards school. It is still not proven that if there is a correlation between sleep and grades, but it is known that sleep does make an impact on grades. Low levels of sleep could negatively affect grade point average and vice versa. Sleep will continue to be an issue for many students and will also be a factor for grades and school performance.