Research finds poor sleep affects student's school performance

September 20, 2005

Disturbed sleep in school children negatively affects their school performance and various neurocognitive abilities, according to an article recently published in the Journal of School Health. This review of 21 studies found that some causes of disturbed sleep are reversible and that affected students can achieve better academic performance after intervention. "In many cases, when disordered breathing at night is the cause, intervention may not only improve sleep, but improve academic performance as well," lead author Howard Taras, MD explains. Poor sleep should be considered as one potentially contributing factor when there is poor student performance. "These children and their families should be asked about regularity and duration of sleep, bedtime resistance, sleep onset delay, night-wakings, sleep-disordered breathing, and increased day-time sleepiness," the authors state. Studies have yet to determine whether there are academic benefits of a later start to the school day.

Most children need at least nine hours of sleep a night, but often get inadequate amounts with poor consequences. And while some sleep disorders can be fixed with medical treatment, sleep patterns raise important issues for educators. As children move into adolescence, they tend to get less sleep per day. Overall, the researchers found that disturbed sleep was more common than many thought.
This study is published in the recent issue of the Journal of School Health. Media wishing to receive a PDF, please contact

Journal of School Health is published ten times a year on behalf of the American School Health Association. It addresses practice, theory, and research related to the health and well-being of school-aged youth.

Howard Taras, MD is a professor at the University of California, San Diego's Division of Community Pediatrics. He is immediate past chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on School Heath. Dr. Taras is available for media questions and interviews.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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