Sleep and Academic Performance in College Students

Published: 2021-09-11 11:10:10
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Category: Motivation, Adolescence, Sleep, Academic Performance

Type of paper: Essay

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The link between sleep and academic performance:

Inadequate sleep is synonymous with the college experience, but how does recurring lack of sleep impact academic performance?




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It is recommended that adults aged 18-25 acquire a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night.
This question is important as lack of sleep is something that is common in college. Many students are unable to get the recommended amount of sleep per night due to a variety of reasons such as familial obligations, homework, studying, work outside of school, etc. If we can get a better understanding on this topic and find whether lack of sleep negatively impacts academic performance, we can potentially aid students in boosting their GPA's if necessary.

Previous Research

"Sleep Difficulties and Academic Performances in Norwegian Higher Education Students" (Hayley, Vedaa, ; Overland, 2017) and (Hayley et al., 2017)


The researchers in this study sought to find the links between sleep difficulties and academic performance in Norwegian higher education students. To do this, they assessed 12,915 students by administering a large student survey for a month, using the Hopkins symptoms checklist. They found that having issues falling and staying asleep was linked to higher chances of failing tests and impacted studying ability.
This provides support to my hypothesis that sleep directly impacts sleep acquired. If students' ability to study is hurt because of poor quality of sleep, that then hurts their grades overall.

"The effects of sleep on academic performance and job performance"
(Chiang, Arendt, Zheng, & Hanisch, 2014) and (Chiang et al., 2014)

The researchers wanted to find the effects sleep has on job and academic performance. They tested this by having 172 college students answer an online questionnaire and then asked for them to provide their transcripts. The researchers then compared these participants' answers to their GPA's and looked at the data by using a T-Test. They found that there was no significant relationship between sleep and performance, but that variables related to sleep did have an influence on semester GPA (variables such as sleep latency and sleep medicine).
This relates to my question and hypothesis as it directly studies the impact of sleep on grades. While this study did not find a strong correlation between the two, certain sleep variables were found to have an impact on GPA, which still supports my hypothesis that sleep has an impact on grades.

"Sleep Quality and Academic Performance in University Students: A Wake-Up Call for College Psychologist"
(Gilbert & Weaver, 2010)

The researchers wanted to find if college student's experiencing sleep deprivation/ bad sleep were performing lower academically. They conducted their research by assessing 557 Intro to Psych students through various tests: a demographic survey (with certain questions asking about academic history), Goldberg Depression Inventory, and Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index. Those who scored high on the Goldberg Depression Inventory were then eliminated from the study to prevent their scores from skewing the data as depression could be a cause of low academic performance, not poor-quality sleep. They chose to test the participants a month after school had began to give the students time to develop a sleeping pattern. Data collection was planned out so that holidays and breaks would not interfere with the data. Questionnaires were completed at the end of each Intro to Psych class they attended. The main findings were that sleep did influence grades.
This study strongly supports my hypothesis as it is one of the only studies found that covers what I'm looking for that also excludes students with depression. Depression is known to disturb sleep and excluding those with depression helps to eliminate other variables aside from poor sleep in what could cause lower academic performance.

"Sleep and Academic Performance in Undergraduates: A Multi-Measure, Multi-Predictor Approach"
(Gomes, Tavares & de Azevedo, 2011) and (Gomes et al., 2011)

The researchers sought to determine if sleep variables were indicators of academic performance in college students. 1654 full-time students took part in a sleep-wake questionnaire that questioned participants about their sleeping habits, their academic history, their lifestyle, etc. They were also tested using the Eysenck Personality Inventory to determine neuroticism and extroversion. Another test used was Composite Morningness that measured chronotype. Students were also asked to provide their transcripts. The researchers found that in contrast to the students who had passed their classes the year prior, those who had failed were found to go to sleep later than their counterparts. Those with earlier sleep/wake cycles also had higher GPA's.
This study focused on finding if sleep predicted academic performance, which is the focus of my current study. This relates to my hypothesis as the findings strongly support my hypothesis that sleep is a strong influence of academic performance.

"The Role of Sleep in Predicting College Academic Performance: Is It a Unique Predictor?"
(Taylor, Vatthauer, Bramoweth, Ruggero ; Roane, 2013) and (Taylor et al., 2013)

The researchers wanted to find what was the predictability of academic performance when using sleep in combination of non-sleep variables. 867 college students were asked to complete a questionnaire packets and journal their sleep for a week. The packets asked questions concerning family background, marijuana usage, and alcohol usage. Participants were also asked to give researchers consent to access their transcripts from their schools. In addition, high school GPA, standardized test scores, gender, and academic rank were all variables researchers chose to look at as well. The main findings of this study were that there was a significant correlation between GPA and sleep. It was found that sleeping later, waking up later, and frequency in naps were correlated with lower academic performance.
While this looked at other variables in addition to sleep, it was found that later sleep time was linked to lower GPA. This relates to my study as it supports my hypothesis that the amount of sleep one acquires does impact one's GPA.

Rationale and Current Study

The findings that occurred most often were that even if other variables were taken into consideration, the amount of sleep an undergraduate acquires is found to impact their GPA. The gap in previous research my study may address is excluding those with depression from this sleep study, like one of the studies did. As depression can impact academic performance and cause disturbances in sleep, it is important to exclude those who have a history of depression from this study as it can skew results.
Our participants will be those who have completed at least two semesters of college. The current study will be conducted by administering an in-depth questionnaire through Facebook that will ask participants to answer some of the following: what year in school they are, what range their GPA has been each semester they've attended college, how many hours of sleep they estimate on average they get per week, and an estimate on how much sleep they got each semester.
I hypothesize that inadequate sleep negatively impacts academic performance.

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