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Sleeping Less to Study Will Result in Poor Performance

Update Date: Aug 21, 2012 06:40 AM EDT

Sacrificing sleep for recreational activities or more importantly studies does not bring any rewards, instead it has negative effect.  

According to researchers from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), irrespective of how much a  high school student studies each day, if that student sacrifices sleep to study more than usual, there are chances he or she will have academic problems the following day.

The study, which appeared in the journal Child Development, focused on daily and yearly variations of students sacrificing sleep to study.

"Sacrificing sleep for extra study time is counterproductive," says Andrew J. Fuligni, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and a senior scientist at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, who worked on the study in the news release. 

"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." 

For the study, 535 students from 9th, 10th, and 12th grades, from several Los Angeles-area high schools maintained journals for 14 days, reporting the time period for which they studied, slept, and if they encountered the following academic problems: difficulty in understanding something taught in class, or performing poorly a test, quiz, or homework. 

The participant students belonged to mixed socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. 

The researchers found that students losing sleep time for study not only had problems in understanding what was taught in class but also performed badly in tests, quiz or homework. 

"As other studies have found, our results indicated that extra time spent studying cuts into adolescents' sleep on a daily basis, and it is this reduced sleep that accounts for the increase in academic problems that occurs after days of increased studying," Fuligni explained. "Although these nights of extra studying may seem necessary, they can come at a cost." 

Fuligni said that this does not mean that students should spend lesser time studying; it means that those who sacrifice sleep for studies might just see the opposite effect.

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