A multi-step pathway connecting short sleep duration to daytime somnolence, reduced attention, and poor academic performance: an exploratory cross-sectional study in teenagers

J Clin Sleep Med. 2013 May 15;9(5):469-73. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.2668.


Background: A multi-step causality pathway connecting short sleep duration to daytime somnolence and sleepiness leading to reduced attention and poor academic performance as the final result can be envisaged. However this hypothesis has never been explored.

Objective: To explore consecutive correlations between sleep duration, daytime somnolence, attention levels, and academic performance in a sample of school-aged teenagers.

Methods: We carried out a survey assessing sleep duration and daytime somnolence using the Pediatric Daytime Sleepiness Scale (PDSS). Sleep duration variables included week-days' total sleep time, usual bedtimes, and absolute weekday to-weekend sleep time difference. Attention was assessed by d2 test and by the coding subtest from the WISC-IV scale. Academic performance was obtained from literature and math grades. Structural equation modeling was used to assess the independent relationships between these variables, while controlling for confounding effects of other variables, in one single model. Standardized regression weights (SWR) for relationships between these variables are reported.

Results: Study sample included 1,194 teenagers (mean age: 15 years; range: 13-17 y). Sleep duration was inversely associated with daytime somnolence (SWR = -0.36, p < 0.01) while sleepiness was negatively associated with attention (SWR = -0.13, p < 0.01). Attention scores correlated positively with academic results (SWR = 0.18, p < 0.01). Daytime somnolence correlated negatively with academic achievements (SWR = -0.16, p < 0.01). The model offered an acceptable fit according to usual measures (RMSEA = 0.0548, CFI = 0.874, NFI = 0.838). A Sobel test confirmed that short sleep duration influenced attention through daytime somnolence (p < 0.02), which in turn influenced academic achievements through reduced attention (p < 0.002).

Conclusions: Poor academic achievements correlated with reduced attention, which in turn was related to daytime somnolence. Somnolence correlated with short sleep duration.

Keywords: Sleep deprivation; academic performance; attention; daytime somnolence; structural equation modeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / physiology
  • Argentina / epidemiology
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Causality
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / epidemiology*
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Educational Measurement / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep Deprivation / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors