Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sleep in College Students

The New York Times

College students have been called the most "sleep deprived" people. The recent study made by Kalamazoo College Business Statistics students, Salome Mgaloblishvili and Pan Fayang addresses the sleep problem in college students. To study students' sleep patterns and habits, they sent surveys to 300 students from K College and Tbilisi State University in Georgia and as a result received answers from 130 K College students and 33 Tbilisi State University students. The main goal of the survey was to find out whether students sleep enough or not and how their sleep affects their happiness with the academic as well as social lives.
According to the study students sleep at average 6.6 hours during school days and almost 70% of them are not satisfied with the hours they sleep. However, there is hardly any connection between the hours of sleep and the satisfaction with lives. The average satisfaction with the academic and social lives are 6.5 and 6.6 respectively (on the scale 0 to 10, 0 being the least and 10 the most satisfying) and they don't vary with the hours students sleep. The researchers expected to find some kind of relationship between these two variables, they hypothesized that the more students sleep the more satisfying their lives should be but it turned out not to be true. The survey also asked how many hours they would like to sleep, how important that sleeping time is for them and then asked them again to rate their probable satisfaction with their lives if they could sleep that many hours. The additional sleeping time turned out to be on average 7.6 important on the scale of 0 to 10 (0 being the least and 10 the most important). Surprisingly, more than 50% of the students admitted that with more hours of sleep their satisfaction would increase. This result contradicts with the fact mentioned above that there was no connection found between the sleeping hours and the satisfaction with lives. These could be because of biases and not objective answers on any of these questions or because of omitted important variables other than sleep that affect students' satisfaction with their lives. The satisfaction with academic and social lives seem to be related. The students who are more satisfied with their social lives tend to be more satisfied with their academic lives as well.
The research studied other important variables as well and got some interesting results. 90% of the students go to bed after midnight and almost 80% of them use coffee, energy drinks, shower or other stimulants to stay awake. The happy news is that, the rate of falling asleep in classes is pretty low, average of 1.2 on 0 to 10 scale (0 being no falling asleep and 10 falling asleep all the time). However students have more falling asleep or early morning awakening problems, average of 5 on the same scale.
In terms of sleeping time, there was no difference found between K College and Tbilisi State University students and almost the same proportion of 1st and 4th year students go to bed after 3am. There was also no significant differences between the sleeping patterns of athletes and non-athletes or males and females.
The researchers are now considering to make further studies in two different directions. One will investigate other possible factors affecting students' satisfaction with their academic and social lives. Another will address the issue that if sleep is not directly affecting students' satisfaction with their lives, what aspects of life sleep is actually affecting.
Sleep is vital for every person's survival, especially if the person has to be active, energetic and motivated as college students have to be. The fact that the study didn't show any connection between sleep and satisfaction with lives cannot deny the fact that sleep is affecting many aspect of our lives.

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