Every high school kid has done it: putting off studying for that exam until the last minute, then pulling a caffeine-fueled all-nighter in an attempt to cram as much information into their heads as they can.
Now, new research at UCLA says don't bother.
The problem is the trade-off between study and sleep. Studying, of course, is a key contributor to academic achievement, but what students may fail to appreciate is that adequate sleep is also important for academics, researchers say.
In the study, UCLA professor of psychiatry Andrew J. Fuligni, UCLA graduate student Cari Gillen-O'Neel and colleagues report that sacrificing sleep for extra study time, whether it's cramming for a test or plowing through a pile of homework, is actually counterproductive. Regardless of how much a student generally studies each day, if that student sacrifices sleep time in order to study more than usual, he or she is likely to have more academic problems, not less, on the following day.
The study findings appear in the current online edition of the journal Child Development.
"No one is suggesting that students shouldn't study," said Fuligni, the study's senior author. "But an adequate amount of sleep is also critical for academic success. These results are consistent with emerging research suggesting that sleep deprivation impedes leaning."
Students generally learn best when they keep a consistent study schedule, Fuligni said. Although a steady pace of learning is ideal, the increasing demands that high school students face may make such a consistent schedule difficult. Socializing with peers and working, for example, both increase across the course of high school. So do academic obligations like homework that require more time and effort.
As a result, many high school students end up with irregular study schedules, often facing nights in which they need to spend substantially more time than usual study
|Contact: Mark Wheeler|
University of California - Los Angeles