21/08/2012 11:06 BST

Students Who Cram For Exams: Sacrificing Sleep To Study Is Counterproductive

Do you regularly book yourself in for a last-minute Shakespeare session? Are you a fan of the late-night date with Pythagorus?

Well if the answer's yes to either, you might have to go back to the drawing board. New research has found sacrificing sleep to study leads to academic problems and is counterproductive.

A report published in the US has claimed regardless of how much a student generally studies each day, if a student sacrifices sleep in order to study more than usual, they are more like to have problems in class the following day.

"Because students tend to increasingly sacrifice sleep time for studying in the latter years of high school, this negative dynamic becomes more and more prevalent over time," the report, published in the Child Development journal, added.

The research, conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, monitored 535 students from several schools. The students kept diaries for two weeks, documenting the amount of time they studied and slept. They then reported back on how well they performed in class - whether they could understand everything taught to them and how well they were graded on tests and homework.

The researchers originally expected extra hours of studying which ate into sleep time would create problems in terms of how much students understood in class. But they admitted they were surprised to find sacrificing sleep in order to study was directly associated with performing poorly on a test, quiz, or homework - the opposite of the students' intent.

Andrew J Fuligni, one of the study's authors, said: "Academic success may depend on finding strategies to avoid having to give up sleep to study, such as maintaining a consistent study schedule across days, using school time as efficiently as possible, and sacrificing time spent on other, less essential activities.

"Although these nights of extra studying may seem necessary, they can come at a cost."


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