With the weeks swiftly ticking down to the summer exam season, a poll suggests that many teenagers are already experiencing sleepless nights.

It reveals that in the month leading up to exams, the number of young people getting just five or six hours of sleep doubles, with many admitting that they are kept awake by worry or stress.

The Sleep Council says teenagers are not getting enough sleep in the run up to exam season
It’s probably better to sleep the night before an exam that outside the exam hall (Andrew Parsons/PA)


The Sleep Council survey, which questioned 1,000 teenagers, found that on a usual night, around one in 10 say they get five to six hours of sleep a night.

But in the four weeks before exams start, this rises to one in five.

[Related story: Take the stress out of exams: a guide to coping with the pressure]

And while just over a quarter say they usually get six to seven hours of shut-eye, this falls to around one in five in the run up to exams. There are also drops in the percentages of teenagers that say they get seven to eight, or eight or more hours of sleep a night.

Research suggests that a lack of sleep can increase the chances of making mistakes in an exam, the Sleep Council says,
You don’t snooze you lose: A decent night’s sleep can help students to get good grades (Joe Giddens/PA)


The survey shows that last minute cramming is not a thing of the past, with nearly half of those polled admitting they have occasionally done all of their revision in one night, while a further 8% say they always do so.

It also reveals the impact exam season has on young people, with over one in four  saying they wake up more frequently due to worrying and stress and a similar proportion say they wake up earlier.

Stress and worry over exams is keeping teenagers awake, the survey suggests (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Stress and worry over exams is keeping teenagers awake, the survey suggests (Dominic Lipinski/PA)


Lisa Artis, of the Sleep Council, said: “Our research shows that a worryingly high number of teenagers are not getting as much sleep as they need to function and perform at their best in the build up to exams. They are sacrificing sleep to study when in fact they might be more mentally alert cramming in extra sleep rather than more revision.

“There’s a growing body of evidence that demonstrates how much the sleep we get impacts on how we perform. A good night’s sleep triggers changes in the brain that helps to improve memory, meaning you’ll be much better able to remember what you learnt the day before.”

The Atomik Research survey for the Sleep Council questioned 1,000 13 to 18-year-olds between March 4 and 6.