Students in early classes get better grades: study

Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:49am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Given the chance most university students would opt to schedule late classes so they can sleep longer but new research shows pupils who take early classes are more likely to get higher grades.

Psychologist at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York found that students in later classes get more sleep but they are also more likely to abuse alcohol than those taking morning classes.

"The real piece that we found is that those who are up later are drinking more and discovering their inner demons," said Pamela Thacher, a psychology professor and co-author of the study.

"It is not that larks are superior, or that owls are different," she added. "Those who don't drink are not affected and more sleep doesn't make a difference."

Thacher and her colleague Serge Onyper studied the rising habits of 253 college students. The students completed cognitive tasks, a one-week retrospective sleep diary and questionnaires about sleep, class schedules, alcohol consumption and mood.

They found the later class times predicted slightly lower grade point averages and more drinking.

Onyper speculates that although students with late classes get more sleep, drinking more alcohol, which is known to disrupt sleep, may reduce its benefits.

"Prior to this study, I advocated having classes start later in the morning, so that students could get more sleep," said Thacher, who presented the findings at a sleep conference.

"But now, I would say that 8 or 8:30 a.m. classes are probably, for some students, going to be a much better choice."