Students who get a good night’s sleep score higher and feel a more acute sense of well-being than those with fluctuating sleep schedules , according to a new study by Tim Bono, professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts. and Science from Washington University in St. Louis.
Bono’s study, published recently in Psychology, Health & Medicine , followed the sleeping habits of 97 freshmen at the University of Washington during their first semester on campus.
The benefits of sleeping well
Students who reported the most stable and consistent sleep patterns scored a GPA of 3.66, on average, while students with the most variable sleep scored a GPA of 3.21. Students with regular sleep patterns also reported higher levels of well-being. These effects held true even when controlling for SAT scores and baseline happiness . Although sleeping four hours some nights and 12 others can average up to eight, that’s not the same as getting eight hours of regular sleep.
Bono advises his students to establish a bedtime schedule. He personally uses a sleep app to make sure he goes to bed at the same time every night . Bono also tells students to stop using screens one hour before bed, as the light emanating from the devices suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy.
During sleep, the brain transfers the information it has learned to storage regions such as the hippocampus so that material can later be retrieved. Specifically, memory consolidation occurs during periods of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which lengthen as the night progresses. Therefore, sleeping less tricks our brain into some of the most productive sleep periods.