Study: Students Ignore Health Benefits of Sleep

Aug 24, 2014

A researcher at the University of Alabama found that college students, who are usually more sleep deprived than the general population, ignore the health benefits of a good night sleep.

Dr. Adam Knowlden, assistant professor in UA’s department of Health Science, co-authored an article that will be published in an upcoming issue of Family & Community Health. He conducted the study with Dr. Manoj Sharma, a researcher formerly in the health promotion and education program at the University of Cincinnati. They gathered their data in 2012 by surveying a sample of 188 students attending the University of Cincinnati.

The study looked at the factors contributing to college students getting enough sleep and what are the factors that do not contribute to it.

“What we found is that stress, and financial and time management, are really some of the main factors that seem to play into whether or not college students get enough sleep each night or not,” said Knowlden.

He added that students are more concerned about the short term consequences of sleep deprivation than the long term consequences, like chronic diseases.

“For example they are aware that if they don’t get enough sleep they may not be able to concentrate as well in class, they may not be in a very good mood,” detailed Knowlden.

Work and stress are among the factors affecting students’ sleep, as well as the fact that they tend to put an emphasis on studying and socializing instead of taking the time they need to properly rest. Knowlden said college students are not always aware of the best way to manage their time and that can affect the way they manage their sleeping schedule.

“Even just basic things like learning how to do some basic time and financial management can really help students, can go a long way in helping them achieve adequate sleep,” said Knowlden.

He also suggests students try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and cut down on caffeine four to six hours before going to sleep because caffeine can alter a person’s sleep cycle.

Getting enough sleep - seven to eight hours a day - maximizes students’ educational opportunities because the more sleep they get, the better they learn.

Knowlden thinks that sleep should be considered a public health issue as important as physical activity and nutrition because they all go together for someone to be healthy. He said more basic research should be done in order to really understand all the different factors that play into people’s ability to get good sleep.