Many hard working students pride of getting by with less than 6 hours’ sleep. In reality they are just depriving themselves of the benefits that optimum sleep can provide. Sleep is a necessity and not a luxury. When a person sleeps, the brain catalogues previous days’ experiences and primes the memory for the day ahead. During sleep, the brain releases certain molecules that regulates energy, mood and mental acuity. An optimum period of 7 to 8 hours’ sleep is required for the brain to rejuvenate and get prepared for the next day. When this is denied, the performance of the brain decreases, and this is reflected in once performance. Lack of optimum sleep can negatively affect creativity, concentration, mood and productivity. (Hershner & Chervin, 2014)
A healthy sleep cycle is made of four stages. As a person falls asleep, he progresses through stage 1 and stage 2 of the sleep to stage 3 or deep sleep. During deep sleep, the activity of the brain and other cells in the body are minimized. The blood flow to the brain decreases, and is directed towards the muscle. The body and the brain are relaxed during this stage. In stage 4, the brain returns to activity as when one is awake. Dreaming occurs during stage 4 of sleep. In a 7 hours’ sleep, a person experiences 3 to 4 sleep cycles that made of four stages each, and each cycle last for 60-90 minutes. The restorative work of the brain is undertaken during stage 3 and stage 4. Without deep sleep, a person may feel sick and in the long run, develop health problems. In stage 4, the brain synthesizes memories and emotions that are required for a higher level of thinking and learning. People who lack REM sleep were found to have slow social processing and cognitive skills. They also had difficulty in concentrating, dealing with complicated relationships and tasks. When a person opts to sleep less, the brain adapts to a lighter sleep with less time spent in REM sleep. Lack of sufficient REM sleep eventually affects performance. (Hershner & Chervin, 2014).
Sleep deprivation and poor quality of sleep is very common among American college students. In a study conducted on 1845 non depressed undergraduate students of introductory psychiatry class, a minor reduction in GPA was observed among students who had sleeping disorders. Sixteen percent of the students who enrolled in this study suffered from narcolepsy. The sample had an overrepresentation of students with sleeping disorders. More than 27% of the participants, suffered from at least one form of sleeping disorder. Students without sleep disorders had a mean GPA of 2.82 ± 0.88 when compared to the mean GPA of 2.65 ± 0.99 in students with sleep disorders. Lack of proper sleep at night can lead to daytime sleepiness, poor decision making, reduced motivation and it can also weaken once immunity. Students who woke up early to study in the morning, had a mean GPA of 2.90 ± 0.84 when compared to mean GPA of 2.72 ± 0.93 in those who studied late in the evening. (Gaultney, 2010)
Close to 50% adults, aged 18-29 consider themselves as nocturnal, and do not sleep during the night. While students sleep for longer hours on weekends, the average sleep during weekdays is ~ 6.75 hours (Hershner & Chervin, 2014). Studies that investigate the relationship between sleep hours and GPA are low in number and strength. Thus, more research in different populations will be required to arrive at a convincing conclusion about the association. In addition, people who tend to sleep less, may spend more time studying and thus the association can vary with the course chosen. There is a widespread prevalence of sleep disorder among college students and the impact of this on education and social life is often overlooked. Students who work part time to pay for their expenses and studies and students who are addicted to the internet, often tend to sleep less and this can affect their grades. Hence this project will look into the relationship between hours of sleep per day and GPA. The hypothesis for this study will be: The GPA of students who sleep for less than 6 hours is lesser than those who sleep for more than 6 hours.
Gaultney, J. (2010). The Prevalence of Sleep Disorders in College Students: Impact on Academic Performance. Journal Of American College Health, 59(2), 91-97. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2010.483708
Hershner, S., & Chervin, R. (2014). Causes and consequences of sleepiness among college students. Nature And Science Of Sleep, 6, 73-84. http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/nss.s62907