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Originally published Saturday, December 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM


Study: All-nighters don't make the grade

Students who rely on all-nighters to bring up their grades might want to sleep on that: A new survey says those who never study all night...

The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. — Students who rely on all-nighters to bring up their grades might want to sleep on that: A new survey says those who never study all night have slightly higher grade-point averages (GPAs) than those who do.

A survey of 120 students at St. Lawrence University, a small liberal-arts college in northern New York, found that students who have never pulled an all-nighter have average GPAs of 3.2, compared with 2.95 for those who have. The study, by assistant professor of psychology Pamela Thacher, is to be included in the January issue of Behavioral Sleep Medicine.

"It's not a big difference, but it's pretty striking," Thacher said. "I am primarily a sleep researcher and I know nobody thinks clearly at 4 in the morning. You think you do, but you can't."

A second study by Thacher, a clinical psychologist, had "extremely similar" results showing lower grades among the sleep skippers.

Dr. Howard Weiss, a physician at St. Peter's Sleep Center in Albany, said the study results make sense.

"Certainly that data is out there showing that short sleep duration absolutely interferes with concentration, interferes with performance on objective testing," he said.

Some night owls do get good grades, which may be explained by circadian rhythms, Weiss said. Circadian rhythms can be tracked through body temperature and hormonal transmissions.

Some people have different 24-hour body clocks than others and may do better, depending on class and testing times, Weiss said.

In Thacher's first study, 65 students said they had pulled one or more all-nighters and 45 said they hadn't done any. The survey was conducted in Psychology 101 classes and included students in a variety of majors.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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