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Chronic sleep reduction is associated with academic achievement and study concentration in higher education students

Publication year 2018
Published in Journal of Sleep Research
Authors Kristiaan B van der Heijden, M Vermeulen, Claire E H M Donjacour, Marijke C M Gordijn, Hans L Hamburger, Anne M Meijer, Karin J van Rijn, Monique Vlak, Tim Weysen

Inadequate sleep impairs cognitive function and has been associated with worse academic achievement in higher education students; however, studies that control for relevant background factors and include knowledge on sleep hygiene are scarce. This study examined the association of chronic sleep reduction (i.e. symptoms of chronic sleep reduction such as shortness of sleep, sleepiness and irritation), subjective sleep quality and sleep hygiene knowledge with academic achievement (grades and study credits) and study concentration among 1378 higher education students (71% female, mean age 21.73 years, SD = 3.22) in the Netherlands. Demographic, health, lifestyle and study behaviour characteristics were included as covariates in hierarchical regression analyses. After controlling for significant covariates, only chronic sleep reduction remained a significant predictor of lower grades (last exam, average in current academic year). Better sleep quality and sleep hygiene knowledge were associated with better academic achievement, but significance was lost after controlling for covariates, except for a remaining positive association between sleep hygiene beliefs and grades in the current academic year. Moreover, better sleep quality and lower scores on chronic sleep reduction were associated with better study concentration after controlling for significant covariates. To conclude, chronic sleep reduction is associated with academic achievement and study concentration in higher education students. Inadequate sleep hygiene knowledge is moderately associated with worse academic achievement. Future research should investigate whether sleep hygiene interventions improve academic achievement in students of higher education.

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