Spending hours in front of the TV or computer and staying up late have never been among educators’ test-preparation tips, and a study released this month shows why.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Boyton Health Service unveiled findings that show students who get inadequate sleep and spend too much time watching TV or doing non-educational activities online have lower grade-point averages than their peers who get plenty of sleep and avoid excessive TV.
In the study, which randomly selected more than 24,000 undergraduate students from 14 Minnesota colleges, 30 percent of students reported “excessive screen time” in front of their TV or computer. Students who reported screen time as a problem had an average GPA of 3.04, compared to 3.27 for students who said they don’t struggle with too much screen time.
"Turning off the computer or TV and going to sleep is one of the best things our students can do to improve their grades," said Ed Ehlinger, chief health officer at the University of Minnesota.
The study showed that students who reported inadequate sleep during the school year had an average GPA of 3.08. Students who didn’t report sleep problems had a GPA of 3.27.
"The more days students get adequate sleep, the better GPAs they attain," said Ehlinger. "There is a direct link between the two."
The University of Minnesota report also showed stark differences between smoking and non-smoking college students.
Students who reported that they had smoked during the past 30 days had a 3.12 mean GPA, compared with a 3.28 mean GPA for students who reported not smoking. The study revealed surprising information for students who smoke even infrequently.
"Even students who smoked once or twice in a month had lower GPAs than those who didn’t smoke," Ehlinger said. "Using tobacco to calm down or ‘to be social’ is lowering students’ grades."
University researchers said they hope the study’s findings will give college undergraduates an accurate portrait of a successful student.
"We hope this information helps students make wise decisions," Ehlinger said. "If you’re investing a lot of time and money in your education, do you really want to waste your investment on behaviors that interfere with your academic success?”
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