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Description: You may have heard about research suggesting that we need to rethink bussing schedules for grade school and junior high school students. Basically, it has been shown that the typical practice of busses taking the older junior high school students to school first (early) and then taking the elementary school students to school next (later) contributes to the junior high students not getting the extra sleep the need in their early teens and suffering academically as a result. Young children are typically up earlier anyway and could go to school first (before the teenagers) with little or no ill effects. This is a developmental effect, but what about college and university students? While they are largely past the sleep need bump of the early teen years there still might be an issue. What is your circadian rhythm related to sleep? Do you stay up late and sleep in or go to bed early and get up early? What are your high and low points during the day? Now, if you are in college or university or when you were do/did you select your courses to match your circadian patterns? Think about that and then ready the article linked below to see what impact this may be having or have had on your grades. Oh, and while you are thinking, reflect a bit on how you might measure the degree of concordance between people’s circadian rhythms and their class schedule selections without asking them directly about their circadian rhythms.

Source: Poor grades tied to class times that don’t match our biological clocks, ScienceDaily, Science News

Date: March 29, 2018

Photo Credit: ScienceDaily

Article Links:

While most people know a bit about circadian rhythms many do not make conscious or strategic choices when it comes to matching their daily routines with their daily sleep/wake cycles. In fact, as the linked article suggested only about 40% of students they assessed have class schedules that match their sleep/wake cycles, and this may have negative impacts on their class performances and marks. Some thin worth thin king about as you plan any upcoming terms. Also, did you notice how the researchers assessed activity patterns on non-class days? The use of learning system access patterns provides a reliable indication of activity patterns and these sorts of data gathering opportunities are important as it can be difficult to obtain reliable data in many areas involving alertness and physiological functioning (and circadian patterns are one of these areas) using self-reports.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are most students’ circadian patterns related to their course schedule choices?
  2. Can you think of some other ways in which students’ non-class day patterns of sleep/wake, activity patterns and alertness might be assessed?
  3. Thinking about your own weekly, day-to-day schedules requirements how well is your typical pattern of activity matched to your circadian cycles? If you are not sure how might you find out?

References (Read Further):

Smarr, B. L., & Schirmer, A. E. (2018). 3.4 million real-world learning management system logins reveal the majority of students experience social jet lag correlated with decreased performance. Scientific reports, 8(1), 4793.

Wolfson, A. R., Spaulding, N. L., Dandrow, C., & Baroni, E. M. (2007). Middle school start times: the importance of a good night’s sleep for young adolescents. Behavioral sleep medicine, 5(3), 194-209.

Fredriksen, K., Rhodes, J., Reddy, R., & Way, N. (2004). Sleepless in Chicago: tracking the effects of adolescent sleep loss during the middle school years. Child development, 75(1), 84-95.

Kelly, W. E., Kelly, K. E., & Clanton, R. C. (2001). The relationship between sleep length and grade-point average among college students. College student journal, 35(1), 84-86.

Lund, H. G., Reider, B. D., Whiting, A. B., & Prichard, J. R. (2010). Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students. Journal of adolescent health, 46(2), 124-132.