According to a recent study by UC Berkeley and Northeastern Illinois University, it may be time to tune students' timetables to their natural biological rhythms.
Researchers tracked the personal daily online activity profiles of nearly 15,000 students when logging into campus servers.
Sorting students into "revelers," "day finches," and "morning larks," based on their activities on days when they were out of class, researchers compared their grades with their academic outcomes.
Their findings, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, show that students whose circadian rhythms do not agree with their schedules ̵
"We found that the majority of students from their CL were jet-lagged ss-times, which correlated very strongly with decreased academic performance," said co-lead author Benjamin Smarr, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory's circadian rhythm disorders UC Berkeley psychology professor Lance Kriegsfeld is studying.
In addition to learning deficits, social jet lag has been associated with obesity and excessive alcohol and tobacco use.
On the positive side, "Our research shows that a student who has a consistent schedule that resembles class-level non-class days is more likely to achieve academic achievement," said study leader Aaron Schirmer, a professor of biology at the University of California Northeastern Illinois University.
While students of all classes suffered from class-related jet lags, the study found that night owls were at particular risk Many of them were so chronically jet-lagged that they could not work optimally at any time of the day. But it's not as easy as students get up too late, said Smarr
"Because owls are later and classes are rather earlier, this mismatch strikes owls hardest, but we see larks and finches that later take classes and also suffer the mismatch, "said Smarr. "Different people really have a biologically diverse timing, so there is no one-time solution to education."
In this study, the largest survey ever conducted on social jet lag is conducted under real-world conditions, Smarr and Schirmer analyzed the online activity of 14,894 Northeastern Illinois University students as they spent over two years in and out of the learning management system Campus logged in.
In order to separate the owls from the larks from the finches, and to gain a more accurate alertness profile, the researchers tracked the activity of the students on days when they did not attend classes.
Next, they studied how larks, finches and owls started their lessons in four semesters from 2014 to 2016. Most were biologically synchronous with their class periods. As a result, they performed better in class and enjoyed higher GPAs.
However, 50 percent of the students took classes before they were fully alert, and another 10 percent had already peaked when their classes began.
Previous studies have shown that older people are more likely to be active earlier, while young adults switch to a later sleep-wake cycle during puberty. Overall, men stay awake longer than women, and the circadian rhythms shift with the seasons based on natural light.
Finding these patterns in the students' login data prompted the researchers to investigate whether digital records also reflect the biological rhythms underlying human behavior.
The findings suggest that "rather than having to retire early to bed, in conflict with their biological rhythms, we should work to individualize education so that learning and classes are structured to fit the time of day Exploit The student will be the most able to learn, "said Smarr.