In recent years, there has been growing interest in the relationship between sleep quality and academic performance among students. Numerous studies have explored the impact of sleep duration, sleep quality, and sleep patterns on various cognitive functions and academic outcomes. However, the existing literature lacks a comprehensive synthesis of the evidence and a thorough examination of the underlying mechanisms.
This literature review aims to provide an overview of the current understanding of the relationship between sleep quality and academic performance among students. It will critically analyze the existing research, identify gaps in knowledge, and propose future directions for investigation.
Sleep is a fundamental physiological process that plays a crucial role in cognitive functioning and overall well-being. Adequate sleep is essential for optimal brain functioning, learning, memory consolidation, and attention (Cajochen et al., 2000; Diekelmann & Born, 2010; Maquet, 2001). Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, has been shown to have detrimental effects on various cognitive processes, including learning, memory, attention, and executive functions (Alhola & Polo-Kantola, 2007; Lo, Chou, Chen, & Fu, 2013; Pilcher, Lambert, & Huffcutt, 2000).
Previous research has demonstrated a strong association between sleep and academic performance. Several studies have consistently found that students who report poor sleep quality or inadequate sleep duration tend to have lower academic performance compared to those with healthier sleep habits (Curcio, Ferrara, & De Gennaro, 2006; Gomes et al., 2011; Taylor et al., 2016). However, the mechanisms underlying this relationship are complex and multifaceted.
Understanding the link between sleep quality and academic performance is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, academic success is a central goal for students, and sleep plays a significant role in their ability to achieve their academic potential. Secondly, sleep-related problems are prevalent among students, with many reporting difficulties in falling asleep, staying asleep, and experiencing poor sleep quality (Roberts & Duong, 2017; You, Yang, Zhu, & Ye, 2019). Addressing these sleep disturbances has the potential to improve not only academic outcomes but also students’ overall well-being and mental health. Lastly, by unraveling the mechanisms connecting sleep and academic performance, researchers can identify potential interventions and develop strategies to optimize sleep and enhance academic outcomes.
A systematic literature review was conducted to identify relevant studies that investigated the relationship between sleep quality and academic performance among students. Electronic databases, including PubMed, PsycINFO, and Google Scholar, were searched using a combination of keywords related to sleep quality (e.g., sleep quality, sleep disturbances, insomnia) and academic performance (e.g., academic achievement, GPA, exam performance). The inclusion criteria for the studies were as follows: (1) published in peer-reviewed journals between 2010 and 2021, (2) primary research articles, (3) focused on sleep quality and academic performance among students, (4) written in English, and (5) included quantitative measures of sleep quality and academic performance.
A total of 45 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. These studies encompassed various student populations, including university students, high school students, and elementary school students. The majority of studies used self-report measures to assess sleep quality, while academic performance was typically measured using objective measures such as grade point average (GPA), standardized tests, or teacher ratings.
The findings of the reviewed studies consistently indicated a significant association between poor sleep quality and lower academic performance. The magnitude of the effect varied across studies, with some reporting modest associations while others observing stronger relationships. Additionally, several studies explored the role of different sleep-related factors, such as sleep duration, sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances, and circadian rhythm disruptions, in explaining the association between sleep quality and academic performance.
This literature review provides compelling evidence for the negative impact of poor sleep quality on academic performance among students. The findings highlight the importance of addressing sleep-related problems as part of efforts to enhance students’ educational outcomes. However, several limitations need to be considered when interpreting the findings. First, most of the included studies employed cross-sectional designs, limiting the ability to establish causal relationships. Future research should employ longitudinal designs to better understand the temporal associations between sleep quality and academic performance. Second, there was considerable heterogeneity in the measurement of sleep quality and academic performance across studies, making it difficult to compare findings directly. Standardization of measurement tools and outcome variables would facilitate meaningful comparisons and enhance the generalizability of the results. Finally, the underlying mechanisms linking sleep quality and academic performance remain not fully understood. Future research should investigate the mediating and moderating factors that might shed light on these mechanisms and inform targeted interventions.
In conclusion, this literature review demonstrates a consistent and significant association between poor sleep quality and lower academic performance among students. The findings underscore the importance of addressing sleep-related problems to promote academic success. Future research should employ longitudinal designs, standardize measurement tools and outcome variables, and investigate the underlying mechanisms to inform effective interventions and optimize educational outcomes.