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Sleepwalking through School: New Evidence on Sleep and Academic Performance

Author

Listed:
  • Wang, Kurt

    () (San Diego State University)

  • Sabia, Joseph J.

    () (San Diego State University)

  • Cesur, Resul

    () (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Policymakers advocating for later school starting times argue that increased sleep duration may generate important schooling benefits. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study examines the relationship between sleep duration and academic performance, while carefully controlling for difficult-to-measure characteristics at the family- and individual-levels. We find that increased sleep time is associated with improvements in classroom concentration as well as increased educational attainment. However, we also find evidence of diminishing returns to increased sleep. We estimate an "academic optimum" number of sleep hours of, on average, 8.5 hours per night. Turning to sleep quality, we find that the onset of insomnia-like symptoms is associated with diminished contemporaneous academic concentration, but little change in longer-run educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

  • Wang, Kurt & Sabia, Joseph J. & Cesur, Resul, 2016. "Sleepwalking through School: New Evidence on Sleep and Academic Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 9829, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9829
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Felfe, Christina & Lechner, Michael & Steinmayr, Andreas, 2011. "Sport and Child Development," Economics Working Paper Series 1135, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
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    13. Teny Maghakian Shapiro, 2015. "The educational effects of school start times," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 181-181, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    human capital; schooling; insomnia; sleep;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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