Poor academic performance may not bethe result of lack of effort. A new study,reported in Pediatrics (June 2005), foundthat sleep deprivation is a factor.
For the study, 60 high school seniorskept sleep/awake diaries during the summerand at various times during the schoolyear. A group of 19 students were alsoexposed to a bright light each morning toreadjust their biological clocks. Theresearchers also evaluated the studentsusing a computer test to measure reactiontimes, and a paper-and-pencil exam to testmood and cognitive performance.
During August, when school was closed,the participants averaged 8.7 hours ofsleep a night. After school started, thatnumber dropped to an average of 7 hoursa night on weekdays. During the summerweekends, the participants' sleep patternswere similar to summer weekdays. Onceschool was in session, however, the participantsslept about 30 minutes more onweekends than on summer weekends—about 9 to 9.5 hours.
Testing skills were better in the afternoon,compared with early morning. In thereaction test, students completed the testsabout 20 seconds faster in the afternoonthan they had in the morning.