Feel out of sync with 9-to-5 life? You're not alone: A massive study of college students shows that 60% take classes at hours conflicting with their schedules, causing them to suffer academically, phys.org reports. Published in Scientific Reports, the study of nearly 15,000 students at UC Berkeley and Northeastern Illinois University sorted them into "morning larks," "daytime finches," and "night owls"—based on times they logged into campus servers on non-class days over two years. Sure enough, many experienced so-called social jet lag. "We found that the majority of students were being jet-lagged by their class times, which correlated very strongly with decreased academic performance," says study co-author Benjamin Smarr.
Hardest hit were night owls, with many unable to perform at all during daytime hours. "Because owls are later and classes tend to be earlier, this mismatch hits owls the hardest," says Smarr, "but we see larks and finches taking later classes and also suffering from the mismatch." The solution? Rather than telling students to sleep earlier, Smarr suggests structuring classes around times when "a given student will be most capable of learning." Or students could structure class days to "resemble non-class days," says co-author Aaron Schirmer, per a press release. Schirmer says he may one day undertake a "more detailed circadian analysis on a person-by-person basis" to further investigate students' social jet lag. (When you eat may be more important than what you eat, research says.)