Sleep Deprivation Among College Students Essay

Table of Content

Many college students, including myself and my friends and roommates, often feel tired and sleepy during the day despite getting a full eight hours of sleep. Research shows that around 60% of college students consistently endure sleep deprivation. This report will examine the reasons for this problem and its effects, focusing particularly on how lifestyle choices contribute to individuals’ lack of sleep.

This report addresses the global impact of sleep deprivation among ASU students, highlighting the importance of awareness and preventative actions. Conducted as part of this research, a survey investigated sleeping patterns and the consequences of sleep deprivation. The results affirm that ASU students do face a considerable issue with sleep deprivation.

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The report underscores the significance of sustaining a healthy lifestyle and establishing a regular sleep schedule as the most efficient means to avoid sleep deprivation. It recommends that ASU students ponder over this guidance conscientiously and integrate it into their day-to-day schedules.

This report specifically examines the impact of sleep deprivation on ASU students and presents potential solutions. It is important to note that sleep deprivation affects 40% of Americans and 60% of students nationwide. However, this report focuses solely on ASU students. The report will define sleep deprivation and analyze its consequences for college students, highlighting the importance of addressing this issue for both the university and its students. Additionally, recommendations will be provided for identifying signs of sleep deprivation among students and enhancing their sleep habits.

Sleep deprivation, defined as insufficient sleep, can have various adverse impacts on cognition, physical health, and emotions. Such effects encompass muscle aches, dizziness, nausea, hallucinations, headaches, elevated blood pressure, heightened diabetes risk, irritability, and memory lapses and loss (Sleep deprivation 2010). Although adequate sleep in one night can alleviate some of the aforementioned issues, certain problems may endure throughout an individual’s lifetime.

The origins of sleep deprivation can be traced back to early human sleep, but recently the scientific community has acknowledged its consequences and conducted studies on it. The advancement of technology and machinery has led to an increase in accidents, many of which are a result of inadequate sleep. Research indicates that individuals who do not get enough sleep often have difficulty with quick reactions and making sound decisions in rapidly changing situations.

The lack of sleep is a major issue in real life situations and has been identified as a contributing factor in significant disasters such as Exxon Valdez, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and the Challenger shuttle explosion (The Science of Sleep, 2009). The connection between sleep deprivation and accidents is also evident in healthcare settings. According to the Institutes of Medicine, insufficient sleep may be responsible for many preventable medical errors that lead to over one million injuries and between 50,000 and 100,000 deaths every year.

Medical interns, especially recent graduates, frequently have to endure extended shifts that can last anywhere from 24 to 36 hours without any chance for rest. It is challenging to establish a link between sleep deprivation and medical errors. Nevertheless, a study performed in 2004 by Dr. Charles Czeisler from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School discovered that hospitals may be able to reduce medical mistakes by as much as 36 percent if they restrict each doctor’s shifts to 16 hours and cap their total weekly work hours at 80 (Landrigan, et al. 2004).

Driver fatigue poses a major threat, observed not just in healthcare facilities but also on American roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NCSDR/NHTSA Expert Panel, 2006), around 100,000 police-reported car crashes each year result from individuals driving while lacking sleep.

The main reason for sleep deprivation among ASU students is their lifestyle, which includes diet, alcohol and substance abuse, and late night activities. Getting enough sleep is important for the mind and body to repair and rejuvenate themselves. Hence, a proper diet plays a crucial role in ensuring sufficient sleep. Poor eating habits contribute to problems like obesity, which increases the risk of experiencing sleep apnea, diabetes, heartburn, and other digestive issues that disrupt sleep.

Caffeine is a common component of many individuals’ diets, especially college students who depend on it for daytime energy. This is evident in the increasing demand for energy drinks. Although caffeine has benefits, it is crucial to regulate its intake and avoid consuming it at night since it only offers temporary energy.

Using caffeine as a stimulant can have adverse impacts on your adrenal system, resulting in fatigue when combined with inadequate sleep. Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption might initially help with sleep due to its sedative properties but ultimately impede it. Alcohol can disrupt and decrease the quality of sleep. Furthermore, relying solely on alcohol for relaxation is only temporarily effective before the body builds tolerance and requires larger quantities to induce sleep. Hence, depending on alcohol as a sleep aid is not recommended.

Alcohol and substance abuse can have a major impact on the body’s chemistry, which in turn affects sleep patterns. The fluctuations caused by drugs and alcohol disrupt the natural regulation of sleep, leading to a cycle where stress and lack of sleep are closely linked, with each exacerbating the other. Unfortunately, our bodies and brains are not equipped to handle prolonged periods of constant stress. Sadly, the fast-paced modern lifestyle we live is characterized by high levels of stress that continue to contribute to the daily stresses we face.

In Stress and Sleep Deprivation (2007), it is emphasized that the body and brain require adequate time for rest and rejuvenation. Nonetheless, excessive stress can make it challenging to relax even when feeling tired at night. This continuous stimulation significantly contributes to sleep deprivation among students. Gaming, particularly for males and certain females, frequently acts as a primary source of this stimulation. By means of computer, Xbox, and Playstation games, individuals not only have the opportunity to play alone but also participate in remote play with others.

Women have more than just games with the round-the-clock access to social media. They can use platforms like MySpace and Facebook to stay updated on global news and the personal lives of friends and acquaintances through chat services and websites. The impact on students is significant, as research indicates that sleep has an effect on cognitive abilities. Several studies have explored the relationship between sleep and academic achievement, such as a study by Trockel, Barnes, and Egget (2000), which investigated how health-related behaviors and factors influence the GPA of college freshmen.

According to Trockel et al. (2000), a study was conducted that examined various health-related factors, including exercise, eating and sleeping habits, mood states, perceived stress, time management, social support, spiritual and religious practices, number of hours worked per week, gender, and age. The findings from the study suggest a strong connection between sleep habits and higher GPAs in first-year college students (Trockel et al., 2000). This supports the idea that variations in GPAs among these students may be influenced by their sleep habits. Additionally, Brown et al. (2006) noted that academically struggling students are often unaware of how their poor sleep habits can negatively impact their performance.

Studies indicate that lack of sleep has a significant impact on students’ cognitive functioning, especially their ability to retain and recall information. Sleep deprivation also leads to increased chances of oversleeping and skipping classes. Additionally, even when students manage to attend classes, their reduced learning capacity drastically hinders their academic performance. These implications are particularly relevant within the university setting.

The graduation rate for fiscal year 2009 at ASU was lower than the average rate of peer group institutions, standing at 28.9% compared to 46.4%. Additionally, ASU’s first-year retention rate is only 59.9% (Rallo, 2010). Research suggests that approximately 40% of college students fail to complete their degree, with 75% dropping out within the first two years. Freshman class attrition rates tend to be higher than those in subsequent academic years and can reach up to 20-30%. This phenomenon is largely attributed to the challenges students face when transitioning to independent living for the first time.

The challenge in higher education is effectively prioritizing and scheduling. Dropouts result in significant revenue loss when projecting university profit based solely on student attendance until graduation. Additionally, attrition can damage an institution’s reputation, affecting its ability to attract new students over the long term. External groups often use this information to either commend or criticize the institution. The importance and scope of both internal institutional requirements and external governmental pressures concerning student retention are increasing. Retention is becoming increasingly crucial in higher education due to the rising cost of educating students and maintaining a high-quality faculty and staff – as it directly impacts economic survival.

The U.S. Department of Education, working together with Congress, is joining efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Their main goal is to improve student retention rates in colleges. Research has shown that many institutions struggle with keeping first- and second-year students enrolled. As a result, the Department of Education has assessed current retention policies and explored ways to use federal funds as incentives for successful programs (DeBerard ; Spelmans, 2004).

Research Methods: In preparation for this report, I proposed a number of important and relevant questions related to the topic. I then determined the most effective way to research these questions. I have consulted books and internet sources, and also conducted my own survey to assess the current situation at ASU.

The Survey: The survey includes seven questions, primarily focused on sleep deprivation and also on identifying students by age. The responses to the survey questions are categorized as yes or no to determine the probability of students experiencing sleep deprivation and its underlying reasons.

I randomly selected fifty students in the MCS computer lab to create a diverse group. The median age of the respondents is 21. The survey has the benefit of showing the percentage of ASU students affected by sleep deprivation, but it also has a limitation due to its small number of respondents compared to ASU’s total enrollment. A larger sample size would likely yield more precise percentages. You can find a copy of the survey in the appendix. The survey questions are designed for comparing ASU with other research studies and gaining insights into why ASU students experience sleep deprivation.

Graphical interpretations [A2] of survey results can be found in the appendix. The research findings indicate that around 55% of ASU students are currently facing sleep deprivation, which is lower than the national average of 60%. Nevertheless, it remains a significant concern. Several challenges impede ASU students from getting enough restful sleep. While some of these obstacles may be unavoidable, it is vital for both students and the university to actively acknowledge and reduce them whenever possible.

The survey results indicate that around 8% of respondents suffer from sleep deprivation, sleeping six hours or less for at least three nights per week. However, it is important to note that this may not have a long-term impact on students’ well-being. Most students are likely able to compensate for their lack of sleep over the weekend by sleeping longer. Although they may feel tired towards the end of the week, they can recover and repeat this pattern in the following week. While this cycle can be potentially harmful, it appears manageable for the majority of students, at least for one semester.

Additionally, slightly below 50% of respondents admitted to dozing off at inappropriate times, while 76% claimed to experience anxiety during periods of inactivity.

Although I had expected falling asleep to be more common, it is still not as widespread as anticipated. This inconsistency can be attributed to professors forbidding students from sleeping in class and the potential repercussions of dozing off at work. It is unsurprising that a notable percentage of students experience anxiety, as their minds and bodies necessitate more rest than they currently receive, leading to increased stress levels and discomfort. Only 12% of students attribute their inadequate sleep to a medical condition, which is understandable considering the youthful resilience of most college students. Furthermore, 4% reported experiencing emotional distress when trying to fall asleep.

College students face various pressures, such as handling a challenging course load, maintaining a high GPA, balancing work commitments (whether part-time or full-time), fulfilling family responsibilities, and worrying about future job prospects in a competitive market after graduation. It is crucial for ASU students to acknowledge the importance of addressing sleep deprivation as it can have negative effects on all aspects of their lives.

Sleep deprivation is a potential hazard for students and others, as evidenced by the prevalence of traffic accidents caused by drowsy driving. Inadequate sleep can perpetuate a cycle that, if left unaddressed, may lead to significant long-term issues such as diabetes and impaired memory. My research conducted at ASU aligns with findings from other studies, demonstrating that the rate of sleep deprivation among ASU students closely reflects the national average of 60%. This underscores the significance of this issue for both Angelo State University and its student population.


  1. Brown, F. C. , Buboltz, W. C. , ; Soper, B. (2006). Development and Evaluation of the Sleep Treatment and Education Program for Students. Journal of American College Health , 231-237.
  2. DeBerard, S. , ; Spelmans, G. (2004). Predictors of Academic Achievement and Retention among College Freshmen: A Longitudinal Study. College Student Journal , 66-80.
  3. Doghramji MD, K. (2005). The Effects of Alcohol on Sleep. Retrieved from MedscapeCME: http://cme. medscape. com/viewarticle/497982

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