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College Night Owls Have Lower Grades

Study finds students who are morning people function better on tests

MONDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- College students who are morning people tend to get better grades than those who are night owls, according to University of North Texas researchers.

They had 824 undergraduate students complete a health survey that included questions about sleep habits and daytime functioning, and found that students who are morning people had higher grade point averages (GPAs) than those who are night people.

"The finding that college students who are evening types have lower GPAs is a very important finding, sure to make its way into undergraduate psychology texts in the near future, along with the research showing that memory is improved by sleep," study co-author Daniel J. Taylor said in a prepared statement.

"Further, these results suggest that it might be possible to improve academic performance by using chronotherapy to help students retrain their biological clock to become more morning types," Taylor said.

The research was expected to be presented Monday at SLEEP, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Baltimore.

In other findings expected to be heard at the meeting, University of Colorado researchers found a significant association between insomnia and a decline in college students' academic performance.

The study included 64 psychology, nursing and medical students, average age 27.4 years, who were divided into two groups -- low GPA and high GPA.

Among those with low GPAs, 69.7 percent had trouble falling asleep, 53.1 percent experienced leg kicks or twitches at night, 65.6 percent reported waking at night and having trouble falling back to sleep, and 72.7 percent had difficulty concentrating during the day.

"In college students, the complaint of difficulty concentrating during the day continues to have a considerable impact on their ability to succeed in the classroom," study author Dr. James F. Pagel said in a prepared statement. "This study showed that disordered sleep has significant deleterious effects on a student's academic performance, including GPA."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sleep.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, June 9, 2008

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