Poor Sleep as Bad as Binge Drinking

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: you need sleep. Poor sleep makes you eat more, makes you more anxious, causes brain damage, and a host of other problems. Add this to the list: it’s as bad as binge drinking, at least when it comes to predicting academic success.

In an abstract (pdf warning) recently published in Sleep and presented at the annual meeting of Associated Professional Sleep Societies, researchers found that college students with poor sleep habits were more likely to have bad grades and withdraw from classes than peers with healthy sleeping patterns—in fact, they were comparable to students with binge drinking and other substance abuse problems. Even after controlling for factors like depression, work hours, and chronic illness, problems persisted. According to researcher Roxanne Prichard, “Well-rested students perform better academically and are healthier physically and psychologically.”

Why the comparison to binge drinking and other substance abuse issues? Well, those are problems likely to be addressed by doctors, peers, and health care dollars—but poor sleep isn’t.

Granted, this abstract is concerned with college students and, unless we fundamentally misunderstand our demographic, you’re out of college and have been for a few years. Still, we’d be surprised if the results wouldn’t be similar for men in their late twenties, thirties, and forties, and given all the other studies that have found connections between poor health and bad sleep, it’s worth fixing the problem now—either naturally or with a gadget.

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