Long weekend sleep is linked to stronger academic performance in male but not female pharmacy students



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Advances in Physiology Education





First Page


Last Page





Academic performance, Biological sex, Gender, Grades, Sleep


Long weekend sleep is linked to stronger academic performance in male but not female pharmacy students. Adv Physiol Educ 44: 350-357, 2020; doi:10.1152/advan.00005.2020.-Poor sleep hygiene portends loss of physical and mental stamina. Therefore, maintaining a regular sleep/ wake schedule on both weekdays and weekends is highly recommended. However, this advice runs contrary to the habits of university students who sleep late on weekends. Pharmacy students at Duquesne University sit for frequent examinations, typically commencing at 7:30 AM, and they complain about mental fatigue. Here, we tested the central hypothesis that longer sleep durations on both weekdays and weekends are linked to stronger academic performance in men and women. Students in their first professional year were administered three surveys to collect data on sleep habits and factors that might influence sleep, such as roommates, long commute times, and sleep interruptions. Grade point averages (GPAs) were collected from the Dean's office, with individual permissions from the students. Longer weekend-but not weekday-sleep durations were significantly correlated with higher cumulative GPAs in men and not in women. Women achieved slightly higher cumulative GPAs than men. Students who fell asleep within 15 min of going to bed had higher professionalphase GPAs than those who fell asleep after an hour or more. Our observations cannot establish causal links, but, given the body of prior evidence on the salutary properties of sleep, men may reap more benefit from recovery sleep on weekends. Rather than recommending that students force themselves awake early on weekends in an attempt to maintain a consistent sleep routine, the real-life habits of students should also be given consideration.

Open Access

Green Accepted