Students’ lack of sleep due to late nights and early start of school affect test performance in 3 key subjects

By @vitthernandez on
Sleepy Students
A boy yawns inside a classroom in Manila June 15, 2010. More than 24 million Filipino students started their first day of school on Tuesday. Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

Lack of sleep is affecting the school performance of students in different parts of the world. Results of questionnaires given to 60,000 teachers as part of international science, math and reading tests taken by 900,000 children in 2011 said students in the US are the sleepiest.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that sleepiness held back learning of 73 percent of US students, based on results of the questionnaires released in December. The study looked into the sleep deprivation of students from 50 nations.

Australian students are the fifth most-sleep deprived students in the world. The consequences of the lack of sleep, attributed to late nights, was that students from 17 nations outperformed year 4 Aussie pupils in math tests. Students from 21 countries did better than the Australian students in science and from 26 nations in reading.

The data are deemed as a wake-up call for Canberra, said School Education Minister Peter Garrett, and place doubt if the goal set by former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard for Aussie students to be in the top 5 internationally in math, science and reading by 2025 is attainable.

Norman Hart, president of the Australian Primary Principals Association, said that late nights caused Aussie students to lack of sleep and even disruptive school behaviour. In the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics blames the very early start times of middle and high schools to sleep deprivation that affects the kids’ health, safety and academic success.

For school year 2011-12, less than 20 percent of middle and high schools started at the recommended time of 8:30 am, based on data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after a review of almost 40,000 schools.

Starting school at 8:30 am or later provides adolescents to get the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep daily. Lack of sleep is linked with several health risks such as being overweight, alcoholism, smoking and drug use.

The report said that average start time of US schools was 8:03 am, while 75 to 100 percent of schools in 42 states begin before 8:30 am. As a result of the survey, in 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged middle and high school administrators to change their opening times to not earlier than 8:30 am.

But getting enough sleep is not an assurance of topping the performance tests since Azerbaijan youth, who were the least sleepy, were lagging in test results compared to other nations. Meanwhile, Finnish students who were sleep-deprived performed better than students from Azerbaijan.

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