Here's some unfortunate news for teenagers about to head off to college: New research being presented today at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies says that a morning person is apt to get better grades than a late riser. Researchers surveyed 824 college students enrolled in psychology classes about their sleep habits and daily functioning. Result: The better performers were not the ones who stayed up until the wee hours and slept till afternoon.
So what to do if you hate waking up in the morning? Use the summer to develop good sleep habits, and then minimize the damage come fall.
Be consistent. "The most important thing is try to maintain a consistent wake and bedtime in the summer," suggests Daniel Taylor, assistant professor at the University of North Texas and one of the study's authors. He'd advise going to bed most nights between 11 p.m. and midnight. If you do start turning in and getting up later once you're at school, continue to be as regular as possible, says Ana Allen Gomes, a professor at the University of Aveiro in Portugal, who has researched college students' sleeping patterns.
Become a morning person. At least two to three weeks before the semester starts, start training yourself. "The best way to do it is to wake yourself up successively earlier every few days, and get out in the sunlight ," says Taylor. The sunlight helps reset your internal clock.
Schedule classes with care. "A lot of kids turn into evening types when they go to college," Taylor says. So don't pick 8 a.m. classes just because you're used to waking up early for high school.
Compensate. If you're just not able to become an early riser, and do end up with early classes, plan some study time in the afternoon, when you're less likely to be tired, Gomes suggests. And avoid studying all night so that you're not exhausted in the morning.