Does sleep quality help adolescents absorb material covered at school?

Luciano Machado Ferreira Tenório de Oliveira, Coordinator of the School Academy of the Centro Universitário Tabosa de Almeida (Asces-Unita). Professor, membro do NDE e Comitê Científico da Asces-Unita, professor da Faculdade Boa Viagem Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife (PE), Brazil. E-mail:

A study about the association between the perception of sleep quality and absorbing material addressed in the classroom showed that the adolescents who reported having slept poorly were more likely to have difficulty absorbing the subjects addressed at school, regardless of gender, age, time of day at school, study time outside the classroom, and the amount of hours slept.

The perception of sleep quality, regardless of the amount time slept and the time spent studying outside of school, was associated with the difficulty of absorbing content addressed in the classroom, as perceived by adolescent students.

Researchers from the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, evaluated 481 young students aged 14 to 19 years old, both boys and girls, from 15 state public high school schools in the city of Caruaru, Pernambuco. The study “The association between sleep quality perception and the absorption of content addressed in the classroom” was published in the journal Revista Paulista de Pediatria, Edition 36 (3).

The descriptive study with a quantitative approach applied questionnaires in classrooms in the form of a collective interview without the teachers being present. The students’ perception of sleep quality was measured with the question "How do you rate the quality of your sleep?" with the options: “Sleep well,” for those who rated their sleep as good, very good or excellent; and “Do not sleep well,” for those who rated it as bad or normal. The students’ perception about absorption of classroom material was evaluated from the question: “Do you have difficulties absorbing material addressed in the classroom?” with the response options of “Yes” and “No”.

In the study, 54.1% of the participants were female. Furthermore, it showed that 44.1% of the adolescents reported difficulty in absorbing material addressed in the classroom, 77.1% slept less than 8 hours and 28.9% perceived that they slept poorly. The young people who studied for at least one hour a day outside the classroom were less likely to have difficulty absorbing content addressed at school. The interviewees who reported having poor sleep quality were more likely to have difficulty absorbing the subject addressed in the classroom, regardless of gender, age, time of day at school, time spent studying outside the classroom and the amount of time slept.

The study found no significant association between the number of hours spent sleeping and the absorption of material addressed at school. The daily amount of sleep required to reinvigorate the body and the brain may differ between individuals, and researchers point out that there are some people who require no more than six hours of sleep per day - short sleepers - and others that require about nine hours of sleep per day - long sleepers (Aeschbach et al., 1996).

A troubling result found in the study was that almost half of the adolescents reported difficulty in absorbing the content covered in the classroom, a result that deserves to be investigated in more detail to better clarify the meaning and origin of these difficulties. The researchers emphasize the need for greater attention to be paid to adolescents’ perceived sleep quality and their study time outside the classroom, aiming at better absorption of the material being taught. Research using a qualitative approach with the students who reported experiencing difficulties absorbing classroom content might be interesting to further investigate in order to get into the specific causes of such difficulties.


AESCHBACH, D. et al. Homeostatic sleep regulation in habitual short sleepers and long sleepers. Am J Physiol., v. 270(1 Pt 2), p. R41-53, 1996. ISSN: 0002-9513 [acessado 14 junho 2018] DOI: 10.1152/ajpregu.1996.270.1.R41. Disponível em:

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