top of page

Nightly sleep is key to student success, study shows

Original Research from Carnegie Mellon University

Summarized By: Neurobit

College is a period of change and adjustment for young adults, as they gain more freedom to determine how they spend their time. However, this newfound independence also comes with competing demands from academic work, social events, and the need for adequate sleep. Many college students experience irregular and insufficient sleep, which can have a significant impact on their overall health and academic performance.

To evaluate the impact of sleep on academic performance, a multi-institutional team of researchers led by David Creswell conducted a study on over 600 first-year college students across five studies at three universities. The researchers used Fitbit sleep trackers to monitor and record the students' sleep patterns and evaluated their end-of-semester grade point average (GPA).

The study found that students in the study slept on average 6.5 hours a night, which is below the recommended sleep guidelines of 8 to 10 hours for teenagers. The researchers also found that students who received less than six hours of sleep per night experienced a decline in academic performance, with each hour of sleep lost corresponding to a 0.07 decrease in end-of-term GPA.

The study controlled for various factors such as past academic performance, daytime napping, race, gender, and first-generation status, as well as total academic course load. However, none of these factors affected the overall impact of nightly sleep on GPA. The researchers also noted that lack of sleep may be hurting students' ability to learn in their college classrooms.

The study highlights the importance of building structured programs and interventions at institutions of learning that encourage undergraduate students to prioritize their sleep. Students need to understand that there are real costs to reducing their nightly sleep on their ability to learn and achieve in college. The research suggests that budgeting for the importance of nightly sleep is necessary for students to succeed academically and maintain good health.


Creswell, J. D., Robles, T. F., Karatsoreos, I. N., Inagaki, T. K., Jankowski, K. F., & Bower, J. E. (2023). Nightly sleep duration predicts grade point average in the first year of college. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Advance online publication.

PHYS.ORG. (2023, February 13). Nightly sleep is key to student success, shows study. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from

bottom of page