Social media and drinks before bed are affecting teenagers' school performances

December 1, 2015, University College London
Credit: Jamie Henderson via Flickr

Drinking caffeinated drinks and using social media 30 minutes before bedtime is significantly reducing sleep quantity in teenagers and negatively affecting their school performance, according to new research from UCL Institute of Education (IOE)'s Lifespan Learning and Sleep Laboratory.

he role of environmental factors on and school performance in adolescents written by Dr Dagmara Dimitriou, Dr Frances Le Cornu Knight and Patrick Milton shows that the total and bedtimes of teenagers on weekdays are strongly associated with poorer academic achievement at school.

The study found that total sleep time and earlier bedtimes (measures of sleep quantity) were most strongly correlated with better academic results whereas problems with getting to sleep and waking up (measures of sleep quality) had a stronger link with students' performances on verbal reasoning tests followed by grade point averages. This suggests that sleep quantity is more closely related to , whilst is more closely related to cognitive assessment.

Dr Dimitriou said:

"Sleep is essential for processes such as memory consolidation, optimal learning capacity and academic performance. It's very worrying to find that teenagers, who need 10 hours' sleep a night, are not getting the sleep they need for their developing brains. The increasing awareness about the negative effects of stimulants and late night media use on sleep and consequently academic performance is crucial and more research in this area is needed. Exciting television shows and social media may serve to increase physiological arousal making it more difficult to go to sleep."

Forty-eight 16-to 19-year-old students were recruited through an independent sixth form college in central London to take part in the study. The adolescents in the study achieved just over 7 hours of sleep with an average bedtime at 11.37 pm. This confirms findings from previous studies showing that teenagers are getting less and less sleep, 2 to 3 hours less sleep than is needed for optimal brain development and a healthy lifestyle.

Previous studies have shown that the negative impact of on academic functioning is not always matched by a realisation of this fact by students themselves and therefore they may have little motivation to alter bad sleep habits.

Dr Dimitriou and the team at the Lifespan Learning and Sleep Laboratory are now embarking on examining sleep and cognitive functioning on a larger cohort of students.

Explore further: Dreaming of a good night's sleep

More information: Dagmara Dimitriou et al. The Role of Environmental Factors on Sleep Patterns and School Performance in Adolescents, Frontiers in Psychology (2015). DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01717

Related Stories

Dreaming of a good night's sleep

October 22, 2015
New research from the University of Leeds has revealed that some people are losing more than 15 day's worth of sleep a year.

US teens start school too early, need more sleep, study says

August 7, 2015
Most teenagers in the United States start the school day too early each morning, robbing them of the sleep they need to concentrate properly and remain healthy, according to a study published Thursday.

Want to remember new names? Sleep on it

November 23, 2015
A new study by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) offers an additional reason to get a good night's sleep. In a closely controlled study of fourteen participants, researchers found that they were significantly ...

Sufficient sleep is important for healthy sexual desire

March 16, 2015
In a study of 171 women, those who obtained more sleep on a given night experienced greater sexual desire the next day. Reflecting sleep's impact on sexual desire, each additional hour of sleep increased the likelihood of ...

Bedtime texting may be hazardous to teens' health

October 7, 2015
(HealthDay)—Many American teens text in bed, leading to lost sleep, daytime drowsiness and poorer school performance, a new study says.

Importance of adequate sleep

November 25, 2014
Catching the appropriate number of z's each night is important.

Recommended for you

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

NeuroNext biomarker study explores natural history of infantile-onset SMA

January 9, 2018
Research led by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to define the natural history of infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) has been "critical" to accelerate the development of effective therapies and hasten ...

No link between childhood lead levels, later criminality

December 27, 2017
(HealthDay)— Exposure to higher levels of lead during early childhood can affect neurological development—but does that mean affected kids are doomed to delinquency?

Early puberty in girls may take mental health toll

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—A girl who gets her first menstrual period early in life—possibly as young as 7—has a greater risk for developing depression and antisocial behaviors that last at least into her 20s, a new study suggests.

Technology not taking over children's lives despite screen-time increase

December 21, 2017
With children spending increasing amounts of time on screen-based devices, there is a common perception that technology is taking over their lives, to the detriment and exclusion of other activities. However, new Oxford University ...

Higher blood sugar in early pregnancy raises baby's heart-defect risk

December 15, 2017
Higher blood sugar early in pregnancy raises the baby's risk of a congenital heart defect, even among mothers who do not have diabetes, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.