Sacrificing sleep and skipping meals to study in quest for academic excellence actually doesn't work, a new Harvard study into 'grit' has revealed.
Children who strive for excellence tend to be seen as those who make extra sacrifices, like getting less sleep or adopting poor eating habits, in a search for top grades.
But the new study of 4,000 British teenagers shows those who display determination, courage and persistence also tend to have healthier lifestyles.
The findings, from Harvard Graduate School of Education, showed "that children who exhibit grit are also likely to look after themselves, and cultivate healthy emotional regulation skills, rather than behaving in ways that are bad for their health".
Studies have shown the harmful effects stress over exams have on children's health. A survey by Kellogg's published last month found that children as young as 10 smoke cigarettes, eat sweets and use energy drinks to prepare for their exams.
Dr Christina Hinton, a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said: "Our results suggest that grit does not require pushing yourself at all costs, but rather cultivating healthy emotional regulation skills and effective learning strategies."
Children aged 11 to 18 took part in the year-long research, which was carried out during 2014 and 2015 in conjunction with four UK independent and state schools in the Wellington College Teaching Schools Alliance.
Carl Hendrick, head of research at Wellington College, said it was "good news" for students who think need to "kill themselves" in order to achieve good grades.
The study also found for the first time a link between high-achieving students and helpfulness.
The research revealed that those pupils who see themselves as having potential rather than having fixed abilities are more inclined to help their peers.
Having a growth mindset, which children can also be taught, appears to have more impact on the others around them than previously realised, the research team said.
The academics said: "A teenager who thinks in this way is more likely to be helpful and care more deeply about others. This may be because they think 'if I feel I can develop, I feel others can', which makes them more understanding and sympathetic."