The effect sleep deprivation has on school performance

More stories from Carmen Pectol


No matter where you go, students will undoubtedly blame their performance in school on how much sleep they get. because let’s face it; high school and college students are not getting the recommended amount of sleep per day.

However, exactly how much is our lack of sleep affecting how well students do in school?

A defining characteristic in daily life is that we live in cycles. The cycle on which we sleep and wake up everyday is called our circadian rhythm. These circadian rhythms can be thrown off by a demanding schedule and by stress, both of which are very prevalent in high school lifestyles.

Since sleep affects your academic and mental ability, an unbalanced sleep schedule can decrease your academic performance by up to a full letter grade.

When you are sleep deprived you tend to have difficulty learning, remembering, and impulse control. Even losing 15 minutes of sleep can effect your academic performance significantly.

Another factor of how sleep affects your performance is a concept called sleep debt. Basically sleep debt is the fact that lost sleep cannot be gained back overnight.

If you only sleep for 5 hours, you can’t gain back the sleep you lost that night in one weekend. It takes at least 2 weeks of consistent and healthy sleeping to get rid of sleep debt.

So how can high school students maintain  their sleep schedules and stay out of “sleep debt”?

A couple of good solutions are first getting a sleep schedule organized into your daily routine of at least 9 hours per night. Sleep should not be considered as optional, but necessary for academic success. Also, sleeping in a cold, dark room with no electronics or caffeine before going to bed.

Sleep is one of the most important, yet most overlooked factors in determining your academic performance and success. Maintaining your circadian rhythm and sleep schedule can help you reach your fullest potential in school and in other areas of your life.