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Want good grades? Stick to a sleep schedule, Wash U study finds

First year college students with the most erratic sleep schedules "were unhappy nearly twice as often," said Washington University in St. Louis psychologist Tim Bono.
Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva
First-year college students with the most erratic sleep schedules "were unhappy nearly twice as often," said Washington University psychologist Tim Bono.

Getting enough sleep is important to our health and well being — that much is well known. But a recent Washington University study suggests that consistency in our sleep patterns is just as important, if not more important, than quantity.

The study authors asked first-year college students to track how much sleep they were getting and the consistency of their sleep patterns. The students participated in mental health assessments over the course of the semester and signed over access to their grades.

The impact was big.

Tim Bono joins St. Louis on the Air

“Students with the most erratic sleep schedules were unhappy nearly twice as often,” study author and Washington University lecturer Tim Bono told St. Louis on the Air. The students’ cognitive functioning was affected as well, with worse grades for students with more erratic sleep schedules.

Bono joined Wednesday’s show to discuss the study and its implications for well-being and academic performance among young adults. He also provided tips for anyone looking to practice better sleep hygiene.

Consistency is so critical, Bono said, that it’s good to force yourself to stay on schedule — even if that means you get less sleep on a given day.

“See if you can carve out time for a nap during the day,” he said, “so that you can go to bed at a reasonable hour that evening and then wake up around a consistent time that next morning.”

He added, “I'm all for a power nap.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Kayla Drake. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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