Investigating Possible Effects of Sleep Deficiency on Students' Mathematical Proficency: A Review of the Literature
Mathematical proficiency relies on a host of cognitive processes that are shared with other mental functions, but three, in particular, are thought to play a central role: memory, attention, and executive functioning. This paper reviews some of the medical, psychological, and educational research literature on sleep deficiency and how it may affect one or more of these cognitive processes. It aims to provide a framework for future investigations into the mental processes of school-aged (K-12) and college-aged students that may be at risk from inadequate or insufficient sleep. Implications for mathematics teaching and learning are also briefly discussed.
Ahmed, W., van der Werf, G., Kuyper, H., & Minnaert, A. (2013). Emotions, self-regulated learning, and achievement in mathematics: A growth curve analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 150-161.
Agostini, A., Carskadon, M. A., Dorrian, J., Coussens, S., & Short, M. A. (2017). An experimental study of adolescent sleep restriction during a simulated school week: Changes in phase, sleep staging, performance and sleepiness. Journal of Sleep Research, 26, 227-235.
Backhaus, J., Born, J., Hoeckesfeld, R., Fokuhl, S., Hohagen, F., & Junghanns, K. (2007). Midlife decline in declarative memory consolidation is correlated with a decline in slow wave sleep. Learning & Memory, 14, 336-341. doi:10.1101/lm.470507.
Ball, D.L. (2003). Mathematical proficiency for all students: Toward a strategic research and development program in mathematics education. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
Belísio, A. S., Kolodiuk, F. F., Louzada, F. M., Valdez, P., & Azevedo, C. V. M. (2016). Sleep-wake cycle, daytime sleepiness, and attention components in children attending preschool in the morning and afternoon shifts. Mind, Brain, and Education, 11, 10-20.
Biggs, S. N., Lushington, K., van den Heuvel, C. J., Martin, A. J., & Kennedy, J. D. (2011). Inconsistent sleep schedules and daytime behavioral difficulties in school-aged children. Sleep Medicine, 12, 780-786.
Borlase, B. J., Gander, P. H., & Gibson, R. H. (2013). Effects of school star times and technology use on teenagers’ sleep: 1999-2008. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 11, 46-56.
Bos, S. C., Gomes, A., Clemente, V., Marques, M., Pereira, A.T… & Azevedo, M. H. (2009). Sleep and behavioral/emotional problems in children: A population-based study. Sleep
Medicine, 10, 66-74.
Bryan, T., & Bryan, J. (1991). Positive mood and math performance. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 24, 490-494.
Bryant, N. B., & Gomez, R. L. (2015). The teen sleep loss epidemic: What can be done? Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 1, 116-125.
Calamaro, C.J., Mason, T.B.A., & Ratcliffe, S.J. (2009). Adolescents living the 24/7 lifestyle: Effects of caffeine and technology on sleep duration and daytime functioning. Pediatrics, 123, 1005-1010.
Carlson, N. (2013a). Sleep and biological rhythms. Physiology of behavior (11th Ed.; pp.288-322). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Carlson, N. (2013b). Schizophrenia and affective disorders. Physiology of behavior (11th Ed.; pp.578-580). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Cohen-Zion, M., Shabi, A., Levy, S., Glasner, L., & Wiener, A. (2016). Effects of partial sleep deprivation on information processing speed in adolescence. Journal of the International
Neuropsychological Society, 22, 388-398.
de Bruin, E. J., van Run, C., Staaks, J., & Meijer, A. M. (2017). Effects of sleep manipulation on cognitive functioning of adolescents: A systematic review. Sleep Medicine, 32, 45-47.
Dehaene, S., Spelke, E., Pinel, P., Stanescu, R., & Tsivkin, S. (1999). Sources of mathematical thinking: Behavioral and brain-imaging evidence. Science, 284(5416), 970-974
De Smedt, B., Janssen, R., Bouwens, K., Verschaffel, L., Boets, B., & Ghesquière, P. (2009). Working memory and individual differences in mathematics achievement: A longitudinal study from first grade to second grade. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 103, 186-201.
Dewald, J. F., Meijer, A. M., Oort, F. J., Kerkof, G. A., & Bogels, S. M. (2014). Adolescents’ sleep in low-stress and high-stress (exam) times: A prospective quasi-experiment. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 12, 493-506.
Dewald-Kaufmann, J. F., Oort, F. J., & Meijer, A. M. (2013). The effects of sleep extension on sleep and cognitive performance in adolescents with chronic sleep reduction: An experimental study. Sleep Medicine, 14, 510-517.
Diekelmann, S., Wilhelm, I., & Born, J. (2009). The whats and whens of sleep-dependent memory consolidation. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 13, 309-321.
Dotto, L. (1996). Sleep stages, memory and learning. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 154, 1193-1196.
Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P., ... &
Sexton, H. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1428.
Elgar, F. J., Roberts, C., Tudor-Smith, C., & Moore, L. (2005). Validity of self-reported height and weight and predictors of bias in adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 37, 371-375.
Eliasson, A., Eliasson, A., King, J., Gould, B., & Eliasson, A. (2002). Association of sleep and academic performance. Sleep and Breathing, 6, 45–48.
Engle-Friedman, M., Riela, S., Golan, R, Ventuneac, A. M., Davis, C. M., Jefferson, A. D., & Major, D. (2003). The effect of sleep loss on next day effort. Journal of Sleep Research, 12, 113-124.
Erath, S. A., Tu, K. M., Buckhalt, J. A., & El-Sheikh, M. (2015). Associations between children’s intelligence and academic achievement: The role of sleep. Journal of Sleep Research, 24, 510-513.
Gohar, A., Adams, A., Gertner, E., Sackett-Lundeen, L., Heitz, R., Engle, R., Haus, E., & Bijwadia, J. (2009). Working memory capacity is decreased in sleep-deprived
internal medicine residents. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 5, 191-197.
Grootenboer, P., & Hemmings, B. (2007). Mathematics performance and the role played by
affective and background factors. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 19, 3-20.
Gradisar, M., Terrill, G., Johnston, A., & Douglas, P. (2008). Adolescent sleep and working memory performance. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 6, 146-154. doi:10.1111/j.1479-8425.2008.00353.x.
Gruber, R. (2013). Making room for sleep: The relevance of sleep to psychology and the rationale for development of preventative sleep education programs for children and adolescents in the community. Canadian Psychology, 54, 62-71.
Gruber, R., Somerville, G., Enros, P., Paquin, S., Kestler, M., & Gillies-Poitras, E. (2014). Sleep efficiency (but not sleep duration) of healthy school-age children is associated with grades in math and languages. Sleep Medicine, 15, 1517-1525. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2014.08.009.
Halassa, M.M., Florian, C., Fellin, T., Munoz, J.R., Lee, S-Y., Abel, T., Haydon, P.G., & Frank, M.G. (2009). Astrocytic modulation of sleep homeostasis and cognitive consequences of sleep loss. Neuron, 61, 213-219. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2008.11.024.
Hart, S. A., Petrill, S. A., Thompson, L. A., & Plomin, R. (2009). The ABCs of math: A genetic analysis of mathematics and its links with reading ability and general cognitive ability. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(2), 388-402.
Jiang, F., VanDyke, R.D., Zhang, J., Li, F., Gozal, D., & Shen, X. (2011). Effect of chronic sleep
restriction on sleepiness and working memory in adolescents and young adults. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 33, 892-900.
Jugovac, D., & Cavallero, C. (2012). Twenty-four hours of total sleep deprivation selectively impairs attentional networks. Experimental Psychology, 59, 115-123.
Keller, P. S., Smith, O. A., Gilbert, L. R., Bi, S., Haak, E. A., & Buckhalt, J. A. (2015). Earlier school start times as a risk factor for poor school performance: An examination of public elementary schools in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107, 236-245.
Kilpatrick, J., Swafford, J., & Findell, B. (Eds., 2001). Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Maquet, P. (2001). The role of sleep in learning and memory. Science, 294, 1048-1052.
Matejko, A. A., & Ansari, D. (2017). How do individual differences in children's domain specific and domain general abilities relate to brain activity within the intraparietal sulcus during arithmetic? An fMRI study. Human Brain Mapping, 38(8), 3941-3956.
Matricciani, L. A., Olds, T. S., Blunden, S., Rigney, G., & Williams, M. T. (2012). Never
enough sleep: A brief history of sleep recommendations for children. Pediatrics, 129(3), 548-556.
Mason, J. (2003). On the structure of attention in the learning of mathematics. The Australian Mathematics Teacher, 59, 17-25.
Meijer, A. M. (2008). Chronic sleep reduction, functioning at school and school achievement in
preadolescents. Journal of Sleep Research, 17, 395-405.
Meltzer, L.J., & Mindell, J.A. (2006). Sleep and sleep disorders in children and adolescents. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 29, 1059-1076.
Millman, R.P. (2005). Excessive sleepiness in adolescents and young adults: Causes, consequences, and treatment strategies. Working Group on Sleepiness in Adolescents/Young Adults, AAP Committee on Adolescence. Pediatrics, 115, 1774–1786.
Ming, X., Koransky, R., Kang, V., Buchman, S., Sarris, C. E., & Wagner, G. C. (2011). Sleep insufficiency, sleep health problems and performance in high school students. Clinical Medicine Insights: Circulatory, Respiratory and Pulmonary Medicine, 5, 71-79.
National Institutes of Health (2011). National Institutes of Health Sleep Disorders Research Plan. NIH Publication No. 11-7820. Retrieved from
Owens, J.A., Belon, K., & Moss, P. (2010). Impact of delaying schools start time on adolescent
sleep, mood, and behavior. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 164, 608-614.
Owens, J.A. (2014). Insufficient sleep in adolescents and youth adults: An update on causes and
consequences. Pediatrics, 134, 608-614.
Paavonen, E. J., Almqvist, F., Tamminen, T., Moilanen, I., Piha, J., Räsänen, E., & Aronen, T. (2002). Poor sleep and psychiatric symptoms at school: An epidemiological study. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 11, 10–7.
Pace-Schott, E. F., Hutcherson, C. A., Bemporad, B., Morgan, A., Kumar, A., Hobson, J. A., & Stickgold, R. (2009). Failure to find executive function deficits following one night’s total sleep deprivation in university students under naturalistic conditions. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 7, 136-163.
Pourtois, G., Vanlessen, N., Bakic, J., & Paul, K. (2017). Modulatory effects of positive mood on cognition: Lessons from attention and error monitoring. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 495-501.
Raghubar, K. P., Barnes, M. A., & Hecht, S. A. (2010). Working memory and mathematics: A review of developmental, individual difference, and cognitive approaches. Learning and Individual Differences, 20, 110–122.
Raizen, D. (2012). Why do we sleep? A comparative approach [PDF]. Retrieved July 25, 2016,
Schneider, W. J., & McGrew, K. (2012). The Cattell–Horn–Carroll model of intelligence. In D. Flanagan, P. Harrison (Eds.), Contemporary intellectual assessment: Theories, tests, and issues (3rd ed.), pp. 99-144. New York, NY: Guilford.
Shur-Fen, G. S. (2006). Prevalence of sleep problems and their association with inattention/hyperactivity among children aged 6–15 in Taiwan. Journal of Sleep Research, 19(2), 403–414.
Smedje, H., Broman, J. E., & Hetta, J. (2001). Associations between disturbed sleep and behavioural difficulties in 635 children aged six to eight years: A study based on parents’ perceptions. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 10,1–9.
Schmitt, S. A., Geldhof, G. J., Purpura, D. J., Duncan, R., & McClelland, M. M. (2017). Examining the relations between executive function, math, and literacy during the transition to kindergarten: A multi-analytic approach. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(8), 1120-1140.
Schoenfeld, A. H. (1992). Learning to think mathematically: Problem solving, metacognition, and sense-making in mathematics. In D. Grouws (Ed.), Handbook for research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 334-370). New York, NY: MacMillan.
Scullin, M.K. (2013). Sleep, memory, and aging: The link between slow-wave sleep and episodic memory changes from younger to older adults. Psychology and Aging, 28, 105-114.
Short, M. A., & Louca, M. (2015). Sleep deprivation leads to mood deficits in healthy adolescents. Sleep Medicine, 16(8), 987-993.
Simpkins, S. D., Davis-Kean, P. E., & Eccles, J. S. (2006). Math and science motivation: A longitudinal examination of the links between choices and beliefs. Developmental Psychology, 42(1), 70-83.
Singh, K., Granville, M., & Dika, S. (2010). Mathematics and science achievement: Effects of motivation, interest, and academic engagement. The Journal of Educational Research, 95, 323-332.
Swanson, H. L., & Beebe-Frankenberger, M. (2004). The relationship between working memory and mathematical problem solving in children at risk and not at risk for serious math difficulties. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96, 471−491.
Tall, D. (2013). How humans learn to think mathematically: Exploring the three worlds of mathematics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Van Dillen, L. F., & Koole, S. L. (2007). Clearing the mind: A working memory model of distraction from negative mood. Emotion, 7, 715-723.
Vaughan-Jensen, J., Adame, C, McLean, L., & Gamez, B. (2011). Test review: D. Wechsler “Wechsler Individual Achievement Test” (3rd ed.). Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 29(3), 286-291.
Verdine, B., Golinkoff, R. M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Newcombe, N. (2017). Links between spatial and mathematical skills across the preschool years. Society for Research in Child Development Monograph, 82(1).
Vorster, A.P., & Born, J. (2015). Sleep and memory in mammals, birds, and invertebrates. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 50, 103-119.
Walker, M. P., & Stickgold, R. (2006). Sleep, memory, and plasticity. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 139-166.
Watt, H. M. G. (2008) A latent growth curve modeling approach using an accelerated longitudinal design: the ontogeny of boys' and girls' talent perceptions and intrinsic values through adolescence, Educational Research and Evaluation, 14(4), 287-304.
Wilhelm, I., Diekelmann, S., & Born, J. (2008). Sleep in children improves memory performance on declarative but not procedural tasks. Learning & Memory, 15, 373-377. doi:10.1101/lm.803708.
Winter, C. (2014, February 26). Personal sleep monitors: Do they work? The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 28, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-christopher-winter/sleep-tips_b_4792760.html.
Wrzus, C., Wagner, G. G., & Riediger, M. (2014). Feeling good when sleeping in? Day-to-day associations between sleep duration and affective well-being differ from youth to old age. Emotion, 14, 624-628.
Copyright (c) 2021 The New School Psychology Bulletin
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.