Poor Sleep Habits Affect College Life, Performance

Time in college is a time for big change in daily living and establishing good habits, especially good sleep habits, often becomes less important than keeping up with studies and partying.  However, a recent study, conducted by a graduate student, emphasizes the value a good night’s sleep and a well-established sleep routine have on academic performance, emotional well-being, and even a student’s driving abilities.

Central Michigan University graduate student LeAnne Forquer had concerns over her own erratic sleeping habits and turned to her psychology professor, Carl Johnson, to conduct a study of the sleep habits of more than 300 students, from college freshmen to graduate students like herself.  Three sleep-related issues were of particular concern – taking 30 minutes or longer to fall asleep, waking more than once a night for five or more nights per week, and consistent bed- and wake times throughout the week, including weekends.

Forquer, who is now a member of the faculty of the psychology department at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, published the findings of her study in the Journal of American College Health.  Her findings reveal that about a third of all college students report taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep and 43% routinely wake up more than once during a night.  Staying awake later and sleeping in longer on weekends is an almost universal practice among college students although it disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle that governs optimum quality of sleep and daytime performance.

Sleep studies indicate college students are some of the most sleep-deprived Americans even though lack of quality sleep time reduces academic performance and makes it harder to maintain attention.  Driving skills are impaired due to lack of sleep, too, leading to excessive accidents for people of this age group.  Depression and behavioral issues are also associated with sleep deprivation.

Forquer feels so strongly that students could benefit from better sleeping habits during college years that she includes it in the introductory psychology course she teaches at Delta State.