The project deals with the problem of sleep quality and its impact on college students. It was discovered that college freshmen experience certain problems associated with sleeping regime due to a number of factors, such as learning and working schedule, social activities, and individual routine habits. Sleep quality and quantity were found to be in direct proportion to students’ health- that is to say, those under-receiving sleep tend to develop the loss of concentration, brain functioning disturbance, memory impairment, reduced mental processing ability, and the disruption of executive functions, to name a few. According to subject field studies, depression, anxiety, and mood aggravation were also a strong possibility. It was concluded that students who receive low portions of sleep show rather unsatisfactory college performance and tend to be in a relatively low mood.
Keywords: sleep, quality, quantity, college, students, cognitive, problem, schedule
Time-consuming tight working and learning schedule, and sometimes partying cannot but take their ultimate toll on college freshmen and older students who may be seen exerting to their utmost when at college, doing part-time jobs as temporary workers to cover educational expenses, or having intense parties once exams are over. Irrespective of activity, students pursue multiple occupations at the expense of their sleep that is central to good college performance, health, and overall happiness. The lack of such may be a precursor of negative health and educational consequences. Colten and Altevogt (2006), Coren (1997), Morin (2002), and National Sleep Foundation (2008) opined that sleep deprivation, insufficient amount of sleep received, and poor sleep quality, or non-restorative sleep were endemic in scope and regarded as a critical American health issue (as cited in Gilbert & Weaver, 2010). Brown, Bubotz, and Soper (2001) cited a study that reported students to suffer from sleep issues twice as often as the general population does (as cited in Gilbert & Weaver, 2010). There must be rational explanations behind the alarming tendency in new routine schedule that sets a tone for sleeping regime.
Significant sleep deprivation (2009) and Shragge (2010) suggested that the rate of sleep deprivation among students was on the rise those days. As per study conducted at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, as many as 70% of students sleep under 8 recommended hours, preferring other activities to sleeping. Late night study, job-caused duties, and social life activities are said to take priority over sleep required for them to perform well at college. An estimated 20% of students do “all-nighters” while 35% will not go to bed until after 3 a.m. at least once per week. Studies clearly show that sleep deprivations leads about 12% of poor sleeping college students to either fall asleep amid lessons or be absent from these every month at least on three different occasions (Shragge, 2010). As far as other reasons of sleep deprivation are concerned, academic emotional stress was the causal factor associated with late bedtimes (Shragge, 2010; Prichard, 2013). Significant sleep deprivation (2009) and Shragge (2010) concluded that stress was more likely than pre-sleep electronic usage and alcohol consumption to contribute to low-quality sleep, with 68% of the quizzed out of 1,125 students admitting to stress as a focal reason of bad sleep. Nor was either caffeine or sleeping schedule inconsistency to blame for the sleep scarcity (Prichard, 2013).
Durmer and Dinges (2005) believed that sleep deprivation might result in neurocognitive dysfunctions and daytime performance deficiency. What are the primary targets of the sleep scarcity are mood and cognitive performance. More specifically, sleep loss affects working memory, executive attention, and divergent higher cognitive functions. The scarcity of sleep may have a dramatic impact on such neural system as the prefrontal cortex of a brain that is accountable for executive functions that include a variety of tasks, such as problem solving, planning, execution, and working memory, to name but a few (Durmer, 2005).
Lake and Morton (2010) opined when “sleep debt” is the case, mood swings and extreme emotions are to be experienced by those deprived of sleep. Such people may now laugh uncontrollably; now yell angrily without any good reason to do so. Bubotz, Soper, Brown, Jenkins (2002) and Brown, Bubotz, Soper (2002) also believed there was a direct correlation between poor sleep quality and reduced mood states besides palpable aggravation of motor functioning (as cited in Powlus, Arigo, and Kloss, n.d.). With sleep deprivation-induced low mood, attention deficit, and executive functions problems in place, there is no hoping college performance will be at its highest and graded that highly given a small amount of bedtime. Pollard and Rice (2009) believed that insufficient sleep was the reason people may develop anxiety, depression, and associated mood disorders, with nervous, endocrine, and immune system suffering just as soon. With an immune system at low level and depression almost sure to emerge, college students are all but sanguine, especially considering the amount of work that taxes them.
According to Park (2009), a psychologist Jennifer Peszka after conducting research over 89 newcomers at Hendrix College found out that freshmen “owls” scored a 2.84 grade point average at the yearend while freshmen the GPA of “larks” and “robins” did not exceed 3,18. In other words, larks college performance was ranked as B average while that of owls was found to be within C range. Peszka said the transition from high school to college to be less problematic for larks as compared with their “owl” peers, with the grades of the former naturally dropping but less significantly. The reason for this to happen is that “owl” freshmen have nothing to do but get used to larks’ timetable, which is rising early. Since they tend to sit late into the night, early risings leave them half-asleep, to put it mildly. Additionally, it was concluded that sleep scarcity was just another factor of efficient college performance along with IQ, habits, and individual efforts (Park, 2009). College students are sure to benefit from an extensive sleep prior to the examination, scoring much higher grade compared to those under-receiving sleep (Health Services, 2012). Overall stamina, concentration, and memory processing functions will receive a good boost from a well-rested brain and its prefrontal cortex responsible for a lion’s share of learning work.
The quality of sleep is directly proportionate to the quality of college performance. Students who enter colleges have their timetable drastically changed. The so-called larks or students who were risers while at high school have little problems, if at all, acclimatizing themselves to a new schedule while those who used to going to bed late in the night tend to under-receive sleep and show low college performance and score mediocre grades. The loss of concentration, memory impairment, brain functioning disturbance, reduced mental processing ability, the disruption of executive functions are few cognitive problems students diagnosed with sleep deprivation are most likely to develop. Anxiety, depression, and low mood are a strong possibility for students who disregard the tips of physicians recommending at least 8 hours of healthy sleep. However, there is a slight possibility of students’ mending their sleeping regime, with 70% of college youth sleeping less than 8 recommended hours. Further research of low-sleep-related issues has yet to be made; however, current studies give reason enough to assume that young college students as a whole due to tight learning and working schedules, partying or social life activities, and a number of habits spend less time sleeping, which takes its ultimate toll on their physiological wellbeing.
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Prichard, R. (2013, March 08). Studying the sleep of college students. The University of St. Thomas. Newsroom. Retrieved from: http://www.stthomas.edu/news/2013/03/08/studying-the-sleep-habits-of-college-students/
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