Sleepwalking Through School: New Evidence on Sleep and Academic Performance

36 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2016

See all articles by Kurt Wang

Kurt Wang

San Diego State University

Joseph J. Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics

Resul Cesur

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

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.

Keywords: human capital, schooling, insomnia, sleep

JEL Classification: I12

Suggested Citation

Wang, Kurt and Sabia, Joseph J. and Cesur, Resul, Sleepwalking Through School: New Evidence on Sleep and Academic Performance. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9829. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2757919

Kurt Wang (Contact Author)

San Diego State University

Joseph J. Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics ( email )

5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
United States

Resul Cesur

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

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