College Students Don’t Sleep Enough, Study Suggests

(Photo: CollegeDegrees360, Creative Commons)

(Photo: CollegeDegrees360, Creative Commons)

Several new studies suggest that because the average college student spends the majority of their day staring at their cellphone in addition to several hours before they go to sleep, both their quantity and quality of sleep is becoming affected as a result.

A new study from Ithaca College in Upstate New York found that using a cell phone before going to sleep may not only result in sleep deprivation, but also lower grade point averages, a lessened mood, and an increase in car accidents.

“I think that a lot are in denial and think that they can multitask, in general we think that we can multitask and perform at a much higher level than we really are,” said Pamela Schuetze, Professor of Psychology at Buffalo State College.

Apple has introduced a new function in an effort to help their users fall asleep.  Called night shift mode, the color temperature on the phone is shifted with the blue light being filtered out, reports Rachele Mongiovi for WIAT.

“That kind of artificial light that comes from the screen can disrupt melatonin which is the hormone that as it increases, makes us feel sleepy,” said Schuetze.

Schuetze went on to say that in order to get the best sleep possible, cellphones need to be either turned off or stored in another room.  She also suggests using an alarm clock separate to that of the one on your phone that has the potential to continually wake up the user with incoming texts and emails.

Study results found 62% of adults sleep with their cellphones within reach.

Anya Kamenetz writes for NPR that the introduction of wearable activity trackers have changed the way sleep studies are able to be performed, as they have the capability to detect movement in order to decide whether the wearer is running, sitting, or sleeping.  While they cannot directly determine whether a person is asleep, they are used by people in the real world, many of whom allow the companies that create the devices to collect data.

A study performed by Jawbone, the maker of the UP tracker, tracked the sleeping habits of tens of thousands of students between the ages of 18 and 22 while they were on college campuses.

The findings suggest the average student sleeps for 7 hours and 3 minutes on weekdays, and 7 hours 38 minutes on weekends.

In addition, a strong correlation was found between how hard the school was academically and the time students went to bed.  Students at schools such as Columbia, Stanford, and MIT routinely went to sleep after 1 a.m., although they did not get less sleep overall.  Research suggests a late bedtime is connected to general intelligence.

Women were found to go to sleep earlier than men and wake up earlier, although they still slept more overall.  Separate research has suggested that women in fact require more sleep than men do.

However, a 2014 paper from researchers at the University of Michigan found 50% of college students reporting daytime sleepiness, and 70% reported not sleeping enough.

In her new book, Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, discusses the dangers associated with not sleeping enough.

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time talks about significant effects to a person’s health that not sleeping enough can have and pushes readers to change their lifestyle and begin to sleep more.  Huffington discussed hearing of students getting meningitis and whooping cough while visiting the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  She argues that this showcases the impact of sleep deprivation on health in addition to productivity, since being sick does not allow the person to perform their daily duties until they recover.