Social jetlag negatively correlates with academic performance in undergraduates.

Research paper by Réka Ágnes RÁ Haraszti, Krisztina K Ella, Norbert N Gyöngyösi, Till T Roenneberg, Krisztina K Káldi

Indexed on: 05 Feb '14Published on: 05 Feb '14Published in: Chronobiology international


Discrepancies between sleep timing on workdays and weekends, also known as social jetlag (SJL), affect the majority of the population and have been found to be associated with increased health risk and health-impairing behaviors. In this study, we explored the relationship between SJL and academic performance in a sample of undergraduates of the Semmelweis University. We assessed SJL and other sleep-related parameters with the Munich ChronoType Questionnaire (MCTQ) (n = 753). Academic performance was measured by the average grade based on weekly test results as well as scores acquired on the final test (n = 247). The average mid-sleep point on free days in the Hungarian sample fits well the regression line plotted for longitudes within the Central European Time Zone and chronotypes, confirming that sunlight has a major impact on chronotype. Multivariate analysis showed negative effect of SJL on the weekly average grade (p = 0.028, n = 247) during the lecture term with its highly regular teaching schedules, while this association disappeared in the exam period (p = 0.871, n = 247) when students had no scheduled obligations (lower SJL). We also analyzed the relationship between the time of the weekly tests and academic performance and found that students with later sleep times on free days achieved worse in the morning (p = 0.017, n = 129), while the inverse tendency was observed for the afternoon test-takers (p = 0.10, n = 118). We did not find significant association between academic performance and sleep duration or sleep debt on work days. Our data suggest that circadian misalignment can have a significant negative effect on academic performance. One possible reason for this misalignment is socially enforced sleep times.