How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Students’ Performance?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Tired student sleeping in the sofa.

How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Students’ Performance?

Have you ever stayed up late cramming for an exam, finishing up a project, or scrolling through your social media feeds? If you have, then you may have experienced the effects of sleep deprivation on your academic performance.

As a student, it’s common to sacrifice sleep to keep up with the demands of school, but many don’t realize how detrimental this can be to their overall academic success.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the impact of being sleep deprived on students’ performance and why it’s important to prioritize rest and sleep for optimal academic success.

What is the cause of sleep deprivation in students?

What makes it hard for students to sleep? Sleep loss is when you don’t get enough sleep or get the sleep that isn’t good enough. This can be done on purpose or by accident, including through problems with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

The human body needs sleep just as much as it needs food and water, but many don’t get nearly enough of it either. If you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t get good sleep, or your sleep-wake cycle gets messed up, it affects how you perform during the day, making you tired and sleepy.

Tired female student sleeping in her table.

These problems can happen if you don’t get enough sleep, if you don’t get good sleep, or if you go to a different time zone.

When you are tired and sleepy, you are more likely to get into an accident, have trouble making decisions, and make mistakes.

If you don’t get enough sleep, it can hurt how well you do in school, and it may also make you more likely to have emotional problems like depression.

Causes of Teenage Sleep Deprivation

There are many reasons why many teenagers don’t get enough sleep regularly. Some of these are:

Hormonal time shift

Puberty chemicals cause your body clock to move forward by about one or two hours. This makes you sleepier about one to two hours later.

Even though teens sleep later than younger people, they can’t sleep in because school starts so early. This “sleep debt” builds up from night to night, making it hard to fall and stay asleep.

Using screen-based devices

Using phones and other electronics an hour or so before bedtime makes it harder to fall asleep. If you put away your phones an hour before bed, you will get an extra 21 minutes of sleep each night, which adds up to an extra 1 hour and 45 minutes of sleep over the school week.

Hectic after-school schedule

Teenagers can have trouble sleeping for several reasons, such as schoolwork, leisure activities, part-time jobs, and social responsibilities.

view of students talking to each other.

Leisure activities

Teenagers often don’t go to sleep because they are too interested in mentally stimulating activities like TV, the Internet, and computer games.

Light exposure

Light sends messages to the brain that tell it to stay awake. Melatonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps people fall asleep. The lights from electronics like TVs, cell phones, and computers can stop the brain from making it in the evening.

Vicious circle

When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain reacts by making you more awake. When the brain has too much to do, it gets harder to fall asleep.

Sleep disorder

Sleep problems, like restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, can make it hard for teenagers to get enough sleep.

What are the impacts of sleep deprivation?

What will happen if you don’t get enough sleep? Sleep experts agree that not getting enough sleep can hurt your ability to think and do well in school.

Not getting enough sleep has also been linked to several health problems, such as:

Decreased attention

Attention and focus are hurt by not getting enough sleep, and these are important for focusing on learning and schoolwork.

Impaired memory

While you sleep, your memories are written. This is how the brain stores and solidifies a picture or idea it wants to remember. Sleep is important for this to happen. If you don’t get enough sleep, your memory might not form correctly, and it might be harder to remember what you’ve learned.

A man looking sleepy while resting on his arms.

Slowed processing

It’s possible that not getting enough sleep can make you less smart, slow down your reactions, and make it harder for you to take in and process information quickly.

Worsened sequential thinking

When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s harder to remember a series of steps, like the ones you need to do in a science project or play an instrument.

Reduced creativity

Poor sleep quality has been shown to affect mental activity, like the ability to see connections between things that don’t seem to go together, which is a key part of being creative.

Sleep loss can also make it hard to do well in school because it affects mood and behavior:

Excessive daytime sleepiness

Daytime sleepiness, including sleepiness at school, can have big effects that hurt academic success. You can fall asleep in class for a few seconds at a time. This is called “microsleep.” This could cause you to fall asleep at your desk. Teachers might see this as a behavior problem on top of the fact that it gets in the way of learning.

Poor decision-making

When you suffer from sleep deprivation, the parts of your brain that help you make good decisions don’t grow as well. This makes it more likely that you’ll make risky or bad decisions, which can lead to behavior problems at school.


Researchers have found that students with trouble sleeping are more likely to act aggressively. When you think about what happens to your mood when you don’t get enough sleep, this finding may be even more worrying.

Irritability and mood

Because getting enough good sleep is linked to controlling your emotions well, those who don’t get the recommended amount of sleep may be more likely to act restless or get upset.

Depression and anxiety

Both adults and children are more likely to feel sadness and anxiety if they don’t get enough sleep. These conditions can have a direct effect on one’s health and how well they do in school.

Female student looking sad while sitting on a hallway.

Your academic success can also be hurt by being absent from school. There is a link between not being able to sleep well and missing or being late to school more often.

Lack of sleep is linked to a number of health problems, like drowsiness, headaches, and pain, all of which can make it harder to go to school when you’re sick. Missed school time could also be caused by problems at home.

How do you overcome sleep deprivation to improve your academic performance?

How do you overcome being sleep deprived to improve your academic performance? Instead of having to deal with the bad results of not getting enough sleep, you might want to try some of the following:

Keep a routine.

Get in the habit of going to bed early and at the same time every night.

Use the bed only for sleep.

Find a new place to read, work, or study where you won’t be interrupted. If you are taking classes online, this is the most important thing you can do.

You should set up a place to study that is not your bed so that your brain learns to associate your bed with sleeping and not with work, stress, or busy thoughts.

Weekend routine.

Even though it’s tempting to sleep in a little longer on the weekends, you should try to get up around the same time on the weekends as you do during the week if you can. Your sleep-wake cycle will continue to stick to a regular pattern, which will help it to self-regulate.

Avoid/limit caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant, which makes you more nervous, raises your heart rate, makes it harder to relax, and keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Wind down.

Set up a routine that helps you calm down before bed. This could mean taking a short walk, reading a book, turning off your phone, meditating, keeping a journal, or drinking chamomile tea. Doing any or all of these things before you go to sleep will help you relax and put your mind at ease.

Schedule meals.

It is best to stop eating at least two hours before bed because digesting uses a lot of energy.

Create a bedtime ritual.

To avoid sleep deprivation, make it a habit to do your evening routine every night, just like your morning routine, so it becomes second nature.

As was already said, try to turn off phones and other electronic devices with enough time to spare before going to bed. Also, make sure there is enough darkness in the room by keeping the amount of light from electronics and TVs to a minimum.

Limit daytime naps.

If you take too many naps during the day, you won’t be tired at night. Plan to take short breaks of no more than 30 minutes each.


Get moving! This will help you use up more of your energy during the day, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night.

Learn how to say “no.”

It’s okay to say no to going out with friends if you’re too tired. You might be tempted to go beyond your limits because you don’t want to miss out, but it’s important to listen to your body and remember that you’ll have more chances to meet people in the future.

Sleep deprivation can significantly impact your academic performance and overall well-being. As we’ve seen, a chronic lack of sleep can lead to poor academic performance, increased risk of physical and mental health issues, disruptive behavior, impaired judgment, and poor time management skills.

It’s essential for you to prioritize rest and get enough sleep to perform at your best and maintain good health.

If you’re a high school student planning to apply to college, you might feel overwhelmed by the college admissions process. But worry no more because help is available.

Here at AdmissionSight, we offer personalized guidance to help you achieve your college admissions goals. You can get started on the path to a successful college application.

Take the first step towards your college admissions journey by booking an initial consultation today.



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