Students who sacrifice sleep to devote extra time to studies may be harming their academics.
These are the findings of a new longitudinal study by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), that focused on daily and yearly variations of students who sacrifice sleep to study.
"Sacrificing sleep for extra study time is counterproductive," says Andrew J. Fuligni, professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioural sciences at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behaviour at UCLA, who worked on the study, the journal Child Development reports.
"Academic success may depend on finding strategies to avoid having to give up sleep to study, such as maintaining a consistent study schedule across days, using school time as efficiently as possible, and sacrificing time spent on other, less essential activities," says Fuligni, according to an UCLA statement.
For 14 days in each of the ninth, 10th, and 12th grades, 535 students from several Los Angeles area high schools reported in diaries how long they studied, how long they slept, and whether or not they experienced two academic problems -- not understanding something taught in class or doing poorly on a test, quiz, or homework.
"As other studies have found, our results indicated that extra time spent studying cuts into adolescents' sleep on a daily basis, and it is this reduced sleep that accounts for the increase in academic problems that occurs after days of increased studying," Fuligni says.
"Although these nights of extra studying may seem necessary, they can come at a cost," says Fuligni.
The study's findings do not suggest that teens should spend less time studying overall, but that those teens who give up sleep to study more than usual are more likely to have academic problems the following day.