New Study: College Classes Allowing Students to Come in Later Only Encourages More Alcohol Drinking & Sleeping Late
Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on June 16, 2011
We have a troubling number of older students in the U.S. who are ill prepared academically for college and above-average careers. For those who are equipped with enough acquired knowledge to do well in college… well, a number of them choose to sleep later and drink too much alcohol.
Even if they’re allowed to start their college classes later in the day.
MINNEAPOLIS, June 15 (UPI) — Some sleep advocates call for later class schedules for college students, but U.S. researchers say some students would just drink and sleep more.
The study by lead author Pamela Thacher at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., and co-author Serge Onyper found not only did later class start times predict more drinking and sleeping, but also modestly lower grades, overall.
“Later class start times seemed to change the choices students make: They sleep longer, and they drink more,” Thacher says in a statement.
Thacher and Onyper say their study involved 253 college students who completed cognitive tasks and a one-week retrospective sleep diary, as well as questionnaires about sleep, class schedules, substance use and mood.
Although a class schedule with later start times allows colleges students to get more sleep, it also gives them more time to stay out drinking at night. As a result, their grades are more likely to suffer, suggests a research abstract that was presented on June 14, in Minneapolis, Minn., at SLEEP 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS).
Results show that later class start times were associated with a delayed sleep schedule, which led to poorer sleep, more daytime sleepiness, and a lower grade-point average. Students with later class start times also consumed more alcohol and reported more binge drinking. Students who were “night owls” with a natural preference to stay up later were more likely than “morning types” to have a delayed sleep schedule and to consume more alcohol.
“Later class start times predicted more drinking, more sleep time and modestly lower grades, overall,” said co-lead author Pamela Thacher, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. “Later class start times seemed to change the choices students make: They sleep longer, and they drink more.”
Thacher speculated that drinking more alcohol, which is known to disrupt sleep, may reduce the benefits of getting more sleep.
“The effects of later class start times might include more sleep,” she said. “But this might be offset by lower quality sleep, which in turn might affect their ability to engage, intellectually, with their coursework.”