Study shows relationship between sleep and GPA
As class gets into full swing, communication senior Melissa Lorras finally is experiencing the pain she’s been putting off for the past three years: 8 a.m. classes.
Lorras is one of many students who dread getting up in time for a morning class, but what students might not realize is an early class could be detrimental to their overall grade-point average, or GPA.
According to a 2012 study at the University of Arkansas on the relationship between sleep and anxiety on college students’ performance, sleep deprivation can lead to a lower GPA.
Kimberly Fenn, an assistant professor of psychology who is the principal investigator of MSU’s Sleep and Learning Lab, said the correlation is valid and something students need to take note of.
“(The correlation) is 100 percent true,” Fenn said. “(Students) should really try to maximize their sleep in order to maximize their academic performance.”
Fenn said although missing an hour of sleep occasionally will not be detrimental, students who regularly get only four or five hours of sleep will most likely have a lower GPA than if they had slept the suggested amount of seven to eight hours. She said to maximize the positive impact sleep can have on grades, students need to have regular sleep schedules that fit their body’s cycle, which might mean avoiding early-morning classes.
“An 8 a.m. class is really difficult because that’s just not when you’re at you’re peak,” Fenn said.
Lorras said she had been avoiding 8 a.m. classes because she is not a morning person, but was forced to take an early class this semester because it was the only time her course was offered. She said she wasn’t surprised by the relationship between GPAs and sleep.
“I get less sleep because I don’t cater to waking up early for class,” Lorras said. “When you’re rested, your mind isn’t tired and can focus on other things.”
Fenn said having workshops such as the Counseling Center’s Sleep 101 Wellness Workshop is a positive step for the university toward encouraging students to have healthy sleep habits.
“The Counseling Center developed the one-session Sleep 101 workshops to help students identify ways to improve their sleep for their overall health and well-being,” said Jen Grzegorek, a staff psychologist at MSU’s Counseling Center, in an email. “The idea is that if students are healthy, they can succeed academically.”
Grzegorek said although a student’s environment might not always be conducive to healthy sleep habits, students should arrange their schedules so they can get the sleep they need.
Fenn said although the Counseling Center sessions are a good start, having a session in each dorm might also be helpful. She also said the university could help students by not offering 8 a.m. classes and instead offering 9 a.m. classes, although that is still tough on most college-aged students’ bodies.