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What universities say

University admission tutors and employers emphasise time and again that they look favourably on a year out, providing it is organised and well-structured. This is where year out group members excel. Students who take a year out before university arrive refreshed, focused and, if they have made full use of their time out, they will be better able to make the transition from dependence to independence. Although girls are more likely to pursue a structured gap year than boys both are arriving at university better prepared to tackle more challenges and to achieve their full potential.

Most universities will offer advice on their websites. Here is an example from the University of Bath.

This article in The Guardian by a higher education advisor points out some of the benefits of taking a gap year before going up to university. UCAS say that admissions tutors know that some students may take a little time to readjust back to studying, but most former gap year students are generally more focused and responsible.