Sleeping habits and its effects on college grades

Sleeping habits research was able to determine that these habits of students directly correlated to how a student performed in class. The quality of sleep was a better measure of this phenomenon than the quantity of sleep each student was having.

Research on sleeping habits have and how it affects human behaviors and learning abilities has always fascinated scientist. Two researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) might just have stumbled upon a gold mine in their finding. They could determine with certainty that better sleeping habits directly contributed to how well a student academically performed.

The finding was by chance since it was not the initial hypothesis they were working on. The research started with 100 MIT engineering students. The students were required to wear Fitbits at all times during the semester. Fitbits is a wrist-worn device that can track a person’s sleeping habits and other daily activities.

Research on students’ sleeping habits

The research then focused on trying to the correlation between physical exercise and school academic performance. Grossman, the lead researcher in this project, wanted to find out how students’ behavior was influencing their academic performance on his course 3.091 (Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry). He enrolled a quarter of the 100 students to intensive physical exercises and the rest he just wanted to observe. His first finding was that there neglible or no relationship between class performances and physical exercise.

The second finding, however, was what surprised him. The study found out that for students who went to bed after some particular threshold time, which in this research was 2:00 AM performed poorly regardless of the number of hours they slept.

More sleep beneficial to classroom performance

Grossman described this finding by stating,

Of course, we knew already that more sleep would be beneficial to classroom performance, from a number of previous studies that relied on subjective measures like self-report surveys but in this study the benefits of sleep are correlated to performance in the context of a real-life college course, and driven by large amounts of objective data collection.

The data also showed no sign of improvement in test scores for students who had a good sleep on the eve of an exam. Going to bed late contributed negatively to school performances and test scores also. Another surprising result was that the quality of sleep mattered when it comes to performance. The students who had consistent amounts of sleep performed significantly better than those with shifting periods of sleep.

The study was carried out by several experts including technical assistant Jakub Kaezmarzyk and Harvard Business School researcher Neha Dave. The funding of the project was from MIT’s Department of Material Science. Lubin Fund and Integrated Learning Initiative also funded it.