Second international School On Mind, Brain And Education

2007, May 22-26

Basic and Applied Topics
in Biological Rhythms and Learning

Directors: Antonio M. Battro and Kurt W. Fischer
Program officer: María Lourdes Majdalani

Abstract: Kailin Tuscano

The sleepy student: assessment of class start time on sleep and Gpa in Usafa cadets
Desirable school start time is an ongoing debate within adolescent/young adult educational institutions. Millman (2005) states that during the adolescent years numerous changes occur in sleep patterns, and that many factors, both internal and external, affect the quality and quantity of sleep. An internal transformation occurs as children enter the adolescent phase of life that causes regulation of circadian rhythm to promote a later wake time. Adolescents tend to both fall asleep (approximately 11:00 pm or later) and wake up (approximately 9:00 am) at later times as compared to adults. Further, adolescents require sleep between 8.5 to 9.25 hrs each night (Carskadon et al., 1995). Adolescent students are consumed with the demands of higher education (e.g., homework assignments, studying, etc.) and therefore tend to stay awake for a longer period to manage such demands.
Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) feel both the internal homeostatic sleep demands and the external forces to excel at a sleep depriving military academy in academics, athletics, and military training. Research by Miller and Shattuck (2005) demonstrated that cadets at the US Military Academy are more sleep deprived than their civilian peers. Looking at students before they are in college, Millman et al. (1995) found that adolescents in grades 10, 11, and 12 (i.e., ages 15 – 18) who experienced an early class start time were more likely to be sleep deprived as opposed to those students with a later class start time. Sleep deprivation brought on by early morning schedules can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, which can interfere with academic and personal performance, health, and other daily activities such a driving (e.g., Rupp et al., 2004). Many college students, whether military cadets or civilians, may be classified as sleep deprived adolescents/young adults, which can negatively impact academic success.
This research examines the relationship between total sleep time (TST) and class start time (CST) on the grade point average (GPA) of USAFA Cadets. CST involves three start times: 7:00 am, 7:30 am, and 7:50 am. It was hypothesized that higher GPAs and greater TST would be correlated with later CST (i.e., 7:50 am); while earlier CST (i.e., 7:00 am) is expected to be associated with lower GPAs and decreased TST. Total sleep time was assessed via sleep surveys plus actigraphy collected across the last 3 years. Results and implications to be discussed.