Insufficient Sleep and the Socioeconomic Status Achievement Gap


  • Thanks are due to my colleagues Mona El-Sheikh and Stephen Erath, who read early drafts and offered helpful suggestions. This work was supported by National Science Foundation Grants 0339115 and 0623936.

concerning this article should be addressed to Joseph A. Buckhalt, Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling/School Psychology, College of Education, Haley Center 2084, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849; e-mail:


Abstract— Research with adults and children has shown that sleep plays a vital and complex role in multiple physiological systems that maintain health and promote optimal functioning across many domains. For children, school is an important domain of functioning, and emerging research links sleep to academic achievement. Many children from lower socioeconomic status (SES) families sleep poorly, and when their sleep is compromised, the effects on cognitive functioning and academic achievement may be greater than for less disadvantaged children. Understanding how sleep affects performance may enrich theory relating to the achievement gap between groups of children differing in SES, and constitutes a new focus for prevention and intervention.