How Does College Impact Your Sleep Schedule?

For many college students sleep isn’t on the top of their priority list. Not because they don’t want it or enjoy it but because there are more important things that take away from the time that should be spent in bed. Surveys have shown that one of the students biggest complaint when it comes to college is the lack of sleep. Each student has their own reason for lack of sleep whether its pushing off assignments till the last minute, late night studying, or partying more then they should. For me it was the a little of all these, especially the freedom of being away from home. Penn State is known for being a party school, with a reputation like that I wonder if its affecting students. If we are sleeping less how is this affecting us?


The null hypothesis for this study is that going to college affects the time you spend sleeping due to your environment, which will cause negative consequences. While the alternative hypothesis is that the college environment doesn’t affect the time you spend sleeping.

A study conducted at Arizona State University showed 56.8% of students get a good night of sleep at least 3 times in a week. But only 6.5% said they get enough sleep throughout the whole week. The top two reasons students gave for not being able to sleep were stress which 58% chose and depression/anxiety which 33% chose. The study also revealed students who chose to spend more time studying rather then sleeping had lower grades then the students who didn’t lose sleep over studying. With 81.3% of C students using time they should be sleeping to study while 69.2% of A students lost sleep time to study. The amount of time a person should spend asleep depends on a few factor such as age, physical health as well as mental health. College students fall into the adolescents category (13-24 years old), which means 9.25 hours of sleep is needed.

Being stressed, depressed or anxiety could be a reverse cause due to not allowing enough time to sleep. Personally if I don’t sleep enough my mood can become lower causing depression and anxiety. As for losing sleep over studying could mean they are not studying over a larger period of time but rather cramming just before exams.

UC Berkeley conducted a study with 44 young adults, had them take test that focused on memorizing task. With the intent of focusing on the hippocampus of brain, which is responsible for memory. Then half of them would nap for 90 minutes while the other half stayed awake. After 90 minutes they given more learning exercises, the group who napped ended up showing improvement over their initial test. While the half that stayed awake did worse then their initial test. Electroencephalogram tests, which measure brain activity showed the group who took the nap was in a better state to take in information. This proves that we need sleep not only to process what we have learn but to recharge to be able to soak up more information.

This study shows that if college students are not sleeping enough they will not be able to recall what they learn nor learn new information at the rate of someone who was slept. The study did not mention how long the subjects had been awake before the study and if it differentiated between groups, which could be a confounding variable.

Duke University eliminated all 8 a.m. classes in 2004. James Clack, Duke’s director of counseling and psychological service addressed that students are getting four to five hours of sleep when they should get nine. He says its a cycle that their students are falling into not without knowing how unhealthy it is. They are also implementing an orientation for freshman that would inform them why sleep is needed. The university also noticed most student had classes beginning at 10 a.m.

I think this is a great idea, personally I have tried to take an 8 a.m. class and had to drop it. I too at the time was not getting enough sleep and could have used an orientation on how important getting enough sleep is.

There are consequences when you don’t get enough sleep such as becoming ill due to a lowered immune system. Lower academic performance as well as stress, weight gain, and mental health issues are all linked to lack of sleep. Some steps you can take to get more time in bed are, create a routine, set a bedtime and wake-up time, use your bed only for sleep, limit caffeine intake, and get some sort of physical activity in daily. The Null hypothesis proved to be right after reviewing the studies.

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3 thoughts on “How Does College Impact Your Sleep Schedule?

  1. Zachariah Watkins

    I think the crazy thing about Duke cancelling 8 AM classes is that it actually makes sense. Most universities, such as Penn State where I go and Wake Forest where my sister goes, end classes at either 8 or 9 PM. So when you get home from class whatever work you have to do you essentially have only a 4 hour time frame to do this work if you want to sleep rested because if you take away the 7-8 hours of sleep you need then your left with a short time frame to do a lot of work. Essentially I believe strongly that classes should have a start time at no earlier than 10:00 because it allows kids to do work and then get some rest without having to stay up all night. This article sheds light on how this schedule of classes affects High School students on average in the US.

  2. Chris North

    I think that is a very interesting idea that Duke had and they may be on to something. I have an 8 am two days a week and that class, although an easy curiculum, is one of my most difficult classes. I have a hard time waking up and getting to class, and then an even harder time staying focused and on task to take notes and get the most out of that class. I think it would be interesting if Penn State tried out later start times for classes and see if students overall grades went up. In an article I found, most doctors urge schools to delay the start time of classes to allow students to get enough sleep.

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