Almost half of all students have trouble getting out of bed in the morning and about a third don’t feel well-rested when studying. Students suffering from chronic sleep deprivation obtain lower grades.

Research conducted by the Dutch Society for Sleep-Wake Research, Leiden University, and the Brain Foundation of the Netherlands among almost 1,400 students revealed that many students do not get enough sleep. A quarter of students often have no motivation to study due to drowsiness and half of them experience this on a weekly basis. Two out of three students would actually like to sleep more.

Poorer grades due to sleep deprivation

This has consequences for their studies as students suffering from sleep deprivation obtain on average a half-point less in their exam results. However, they still obtain the same number of credits as their well-rested fellow students.

“There are no vast differences but the differences are there,” says neurologist Hans Hamburger of the Amsterdam Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders. “The trend is that less sleep leads to diminished performance. Young people have a high level of vitality, but once their reserves have been used up, they pay the price.”

Sleep awareness

The moral of the story is simple: pay attention to how much you sleep. Keeping to a schedule where you study regularly and go to bed on time is more effective than pulling an all-nighter just before an exam. “If you go to sleep 90 minutes later you miss out on the deep sleep experienced in the first hours of the night. This sleep is essential for your memory,” says Hamburger. “That’s why it’s better for you to go to bed early than it is to sleep in late.”

Students aren’t always aware of what is good for helping them sleep. For example, half of them think you sleep better if you engage in an intensive sport activity just before going to bed, while that is not the case. And 30% of students are convinced that alcohol is beneficial to sleep while that is also not the case.

The research also showed that students who are more aware about what constitutes good sleeping habits get higher grades. You can read more on the causes and effects of poor sleeping habits and find tips to improve the quality of your sleep on the Brain Foundation of the Netherlands website.