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Jun 02, 2014 12:06 PM EDT

Poor Sleep May Have Same Impact On GPA As Binge Drinking, Marijuana

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Poor sleep has the same impact on grade point average (GPA) as binge drinking and marijuana, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that College students who are poor sleepers are much more likely to earn worse grades and withdraw from a course than healthy sleeping peers. 

They concluded that sleep timing and maintenance problems in college students are a strong predictor of academic problems even after controlling for other factors that contribute to academic success, such as clinical depression, feeling isolated, and diagnosis with a learning disability or chronic health issue.   

"Well-rested students perform better academically and are healthier physically and psychologically," investigators Roxanne Prichard, associate professor of psychology and Monica Hartmann, professor of economics at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, said in a statement.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from the Spring 2009 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment to evaluate factors that predict undergraduate academic problems including dropping a course, earning a lower course grade and having a lower cumulative GPA. Responses from more than 43,000 participants were included in the analysis.

Prichard said student health information about the importance of sleep is lacking on most university campuses.

"Sleep problems are not systematically addressed in the same way that substance abuse problems are," she said.  "For colleges and universities, addressing sleep problems early in a student's academic career can have a major economic benefit through increased retention."

The findings were recently published in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented Tuesday, June 3, in Minneapolis, Minn. at SLEEP 2014, the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. 

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