School Start Time Conference - Session 07:

Deficient Sleep in Teens:  The Impact on School Performance - Amy Wolfson, PhD


This is one of the most productive conferences I have ever attended.
— School Board Member

Deficient Sleep in Teens:  The Impact on School Performance - Amy Wolfson, PhD, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Psychology, Loyola University Maryland

Dr. Wolfson reviews literature on the relationships linking school start times, sleep, and academic performance.  The main focus is on: associations between insufficient and delayed sleep patterns and academic performance, with performance indicators including student GPAs and self-reported grades, test scores, time spent on homework, attendance, and tardiness.   Research addressing these questions include cross-sectional studies and a longitudinal study of school districts in various regions of the US;  results of a large study conducted in Norway (2016) that looked at the predicitive quality of sleep duration and sleep deficits on test scores was also presented.   

In addition to reporting results of studies on overall student measures of academic performance, Dr. Wolfson also discusses studies that explored several sub-topics of the issue:  a study that compared student test scores in the same core course taken in the first period versus later in the day; an experiment that compared the test performance of students who were well-slept compared to students who were sleep deficient;  research data that addressed whether students at the lower end of the distribution of academic performance benefit more or less from later start times than those at the higher end of the distribution; studies that looked at next-day academic performance when students sacrificed sleep in order to study more than usual.

Amy R. Wolfson, PhD
Amy R. Wolfson is Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of
Psychology at Loyola University Maryland. Wolfson came to Loyola from the College of the Holy Cross, where she chaired the psychology department from 2008-2010 and served as associate dean in from 2010-2014. She has been published in numerous prestigious peer-reviewed journals and is the author of two books, The Woman’s Book of Sleep: A Complete Resource Guide and The Oxford Handbook of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Sleep and Behavior.

Wolfson was awarded a six-year $1.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2005 for her Young Adolescent Sleep-Smart Pacesetter Program—the largest individual grant awarded to a College of the Holy Cross faculty member. Dr. Wolfson recently completed the Sleep-Smart study, a longitudinal study of urban, middle-school students' sleep patterns and hygiene, behavioral well-being, and academic performance, funded by the NIH. She is co-editing a special issue for Sleep Health on Sleep Science and Policy: a Focus on School Start Times, and her current research is focused on addressing the implications of emotional and physical health practices on adolescents’ sleep. She has taught courses on gender and leadership, mental health, health psychology, women’s studies, and sleep and circadian rhythms.