Night or morning person – it can affect your marks
Name: Gerhard Nordlund
“Around 120,000 middle-school students are disadvantaged by the current school system. They perform worse than they would if schools adapted to their biological pre-requisites,” Gerhard Nordlund, Educational Researcher, believes.
"School classes should perhaps be divided into morning and night people,” says Gerhard Nordlund.
Sleeping and eating habits are of greater significance to our performance than what many think. Morning people eat better, perform better and live healthier. Gerhard Nordlund conducted a study of around 2,000 middle-school students that confirms this claim. Researchers followed the students for a period of three years.
“It becomes clear rather quickly which students are extreme morning people or night people. The night people are a bit careless, have a hard time keeping to a schedule, are more unplanned and also commonly receive lower marks,” confirms Nordlund.
Why a group of students both performed and behaved worse than others could not be explained by the analyses conducted of place of residence and social class, for example.
“It perplexed us, but when I got in touch with some sleep researchers, the puzzle pieces fell into place. It is a question of biological differences, how the brain regulates our daily cycle,” he explains.
The biological food-and-sleep clock is controlled by a group of brain cells that have the task of transmitting signals among themselves and the glands that regulate various hormones, such as those that control appetite and wakefulness.
Night people sleep less. They neglect breakfast because they are not hungry and, contrary to what one might think, they also do not eat well for lunch.
“In turn, this leads to concentration difficulties, queasiness, headaches and worse school results. They have entirely different pre-requisites than morning people.
These are findings that politicians should learn from,” thinks Gerhard Nordlund.
“The students begin the school day with completely different conditions. This difference is the largest during the teenage years. The students who need it should be given the opportunity of breakfast at school so that they can get a good start to the school day. School classes could, for example, be divided up into morning people and night people.”
Another approach could be having a flexible school start by an hour or two. From the study, it also turns out that these students are more stressed than others. Many become anxious and then negatively influence others in the classroom.
In the study, 13% of the students were defined as morning people in grade 7. In grade 9, the number had decreased to 7%. However, the proportion of night people increased from 34% to 45% in grade 9.
“This means that approximately 120,000 students are disadvantaged in middle school. More girls than boys belonged to the morning people,” says Nordlund.
“Sleeping habits have a considerable impact on the entire behavioural pattern. The night people try to push 25-26 hours into a day. They also smoke more, exercise less, eat less fruit and vegetables and more candy and crisps. There are also large differences in marks between both of the groups.”
“But night people are needed in our society, especially now when round the clock opening hours are increasingly more common. But we have to give them better conditions to succeed,” Gerhard Nordlund believes.
Name: Gerhard Nordlund
Profession: Senior Lecturer in Education, Head of the Department of Education
Hidden talent: Artistic and musical
Hobby: Hunting, fishing, his summer cottage
Best in his record collection: Likes jazz and country music
Likes to eat and drink: Simple home cooking and game, milk and red wine.