Peszka also computed how much the students' grades declined during their freshman year at college compared to their last year of high school. It's typical, she said, for all students to have some decline during that period, as they adjust to college life.
"The owls actually declined by almost an entire grade point, 0.98," she said. The larks and robins declined, too, but by less -- two-thirds of a letter grade.
Fast forward to senior year at college, when the night owls' sleep habits improved, perhaps from necessity, Peszka suggested, and the difference in GPA had narrowed to the point where it was not significant from a statistical point of view.
"At the end of their [college] senior year, the larks and robins averaged a 3.45 GPA, the owls 3.32," Peszka said.
While the study shows only correlation between poor sleep and grades, Peszka said it is probably wise to advise night owls and others to pay attention to sleep habits if they want to maintain good grades.
Night owls may have to be especially attentive to sleep, she said. "I tell my students, 'Some people can eat cookies every day and never get fat. Some people have to pay attention to the cookies they are eating.' It could be morning types don't have to pay as close attention to their sleep habits. Evening types might have to be more cautious."
In another study presented at the conference, researchers from Rutgers and other universities found that night owls' poor sleep habits were tied to lower GPAs among 99 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets.
The two studies are among the first to look at educational response to sleep time and habits during the college years, said Donna Arand, clinical director of the Sleep Diso
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