The influence of sleep quality, sleep duration and sleepiness on school performance in children and adolescents: A meta-analytic review

Sleep Med Rev. 2010 Jun;14(3):179-89. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2009.10.004. Epub 2010 Jan 21.


Insufficient sleep, poor sleep quality and sleepiness are common problems in children and adolescents being related to learning, memory and school performance. The associations between sleep quality (k=16 studies, N=13,631), sleep duration (k=17 studies, N=15,199), sleepiness (k=17, N=19,530) and school performance were examined in three separate meta-analyses including influential factors (e.g., gender, age, parameter assessment) as moderators. All three sleep variables were significantly but modestly related to school performance. Sleepiness showed the strongest relation to school performance (r=-0.133), followed by sleep quality (r=0.096) and sleep duration (r=0.069). Effect sizes were larger for studies including younger participants which can be explained by dramatic prefrontal cortex changes during (early) adolescence. Concerning the relationship between sleep duration and school performance age effects were even larger in studies that included more boys than in studies that included more girls, demonstrating the importance of differential pubertal development of boys and girls. Longitudinal and experimental studies are recommended in order to gain more insight into the different relationships and to develop programs that can improve school performance by changing individuals' sleep patterns.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Educational Status*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Puberty / physiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep* / physiology
  • Wakefulness* / physiology