Project Lead: Ângela M. Katsuyama, UW Biology
Advisor: Horacio O. de la Iglesia, UW Biology
eScience Liaisons: Bill Howe, Daniel Halperin


A diagram of the activity waveform

Activity waveform

This project investigates the impact of sleep in college academic performance. We hypothesize that poor academic performance in college students correlates with poor sleep behaviors. To address this hypothesis, we collected data from 72 senior students enrolled in the Spring 2014 Biological Clocks and Rhythms course.

Some of the considered sleep parameters for analysis were: chronotype (preference to be a morning vs. evening type, as mismatches between the chronotype and the work schedule can lead to poor performance), social jetlag (difference in sleep timing between school days and weekend due to usual compensation of sleep debt on the weekends), variability of sleep onset, offset, duration, etc. Sleep parameters were recorded via sleep diaries, as well as with wrist data loggers (see below); performance was measured through grades.

The datasets consisted of: 1-) Activity and light exposure to three wavelengths, as well as white light, collected over 6 days (including one weekend) using a wrist actimeter (ActiWatch®); 2-) Sleep diary containing information about bed time, wake time, rise time, sleep duration and number of disturbances throughout the night (and of what kind), all self-reported throughout the days the student was wearing the watch; 3-) Chronotype score based on validated questionnaires from the literature; 4-) Grades (midterms, quizzes and final grade).

Our main goal was to determine potential correlations between sleep parameters and grades. We specifically assessed how light exposure is associated with to sleep patterns, and whether day-to-day variability or weekday vs. weekend variability have impact in academic performance. The challenge was to automatize data analysis across the entire population of students so this project could be scaled-up.

Click here to read the project’s full summary.