Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sleep Smarter: It’s quality not quantity that counts recent study by Kalamazoo College Business Statistics student says

For the Business Statistics Project, Hikaru Sugimori surveyed about 200 Kalamazoo College Students to find out their sleeping habits and how it affected students’ academic and social lives. The study found that students slept for 6.6 hours on average every night. This is a relatively low number compared to the 8-9 hours that experts recommend. This is understandable considering the amount of schoolwork that college students have to do. Furthermore a majority of the students felt dissatisfied with the duration of their sleep and a majority of the students agreed that lack of sleep made them feel depressed, anxious or stressed. However, most students thought their sleeping habits had no effect on their social lives.

Hikaru also researched students’ sleeping qualities, how well students’ were sleeping each night. This was quantified using the Groninger Sleep Quality Index. On average student sleep qualities were good but there is much room for improvement. Interestingly there seemed to be a much stronger relationship between sleep quality and academic performance than sleep duration and academic performance.

This information may be very useful and applicable to the Kalamazoo College community because it suggests that better sleep quality may lead to better performance in school. Although many students have 8:30 classes, an abundant quantity of school work, and many other factors outside that student’s control that contribute to his or her sleep deprivation, a student can still improve sleep quality even if sleep duration cannot be improved due to these factors, and this study shows that students who have a better quality of sleep perform better in school. Furthermore, the study suggests that sleep quality is in fact far more important than sleep quantity.

Sleep quality is crucial because each student sleeps differently. This study shows a wide variation in the sleep quality satisfaction that students reported and their sleep quantity. The fact that a student slept nine hours will not mean anything if the student did not feel well rested while another person could potentially only need 6 hours in order to feel rested. Margaret Thatcher famously boasted that she only needed 4 hours of sleep in order to feel rested. Thus, the quality of sleep that you experience is far more important than the actual time spent in bed. After all, four hours of deep restorative sleep will have infinitely more benefits than eight hours of fragmented and disturbed sleep. If you’re not getting the quality of sleep that is needed for rejuvenation then a long time in bed won’t be beneficial.

As suggested by the data aforementioned about the importance of sleep quality, the Kalamazoo College community can gain great benefits by taking steps to improve seep quality. To improve sleep quality the study suggests that students reduce caffeine intake as much as possible and reduce screen time before sleep. Physical exercise, reduction of stress and good sleeping environments without sleep hindrances can also help improve sleep quality. The study also suggests settings a regular bedtime, waking up at the same time every day, and nap to make up for lost sleep. Getting back in sync with your body’s natural sleep–wake cycle—your circadian rhythm—in this way is one of the most important strategies for achieving a good sleep quality.

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