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Effect of Sleep Deprivation on the Academic Performance and Cognitive Functions among the College Students: A Cross Sectional Study

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  • Acharya Institute of health sciences,Bangalore

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ABSTRACT Background: Sleep is an important biological necessity, College students often have erratic sleep schedules, poor sleep hygiene and poor sleep quality, which might affect their performance and cognitive functions. Objective: To find out the effect of sleep deprivation on the academic performance and cognitive functions among the college students. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional design- A self-administered paper questionnaire was administered of first-year through final-year BPT, BMLT and BMIT students. The grade point average was recorded for the academic performance. Results: A total of 150 respondents, with a response rate of 75%, were obtained. 143 (95.3%) students obtained less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. The students whose GPA was lower were associated with lesser sleep duration had sleep deprivation. The cognitive functions of college students like memory, attention, concentration was also impaired. Conclusion: Academic performance and cognitive functions of the students who were sleep deprived was poor. . Hence, appropriate sleep is integral part of better academic performance and cognitive function. Keywords: Sleep deprivation, academic performance, cognitive function, grade point average
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Journal of Chalmeda Anand Rao Institute of Medical Sciences Vol 14 Issue 2 July - December 2017 ISSN (Print) : 2278-5310 51
INTRODUCTION
Sleep is defined as naturally recurring state of mind and
body characterized by altered consciousness, relatively
inhibited sensory activity, inhibition of nearly all
voluntary muscles and reduced interactions with
surroundings.[1] Sleep is crucial for proper brain function.
an integral part of human health and life. It is crucial for
learning, performance, and physical and mental health.[2]
The human body normally requires seven hours of night
sleep and eight to nine hours of daily sleep.[3,4]
Sleep deprivation is defined as obtaining inadequate sleep
to support adequate daytime alertness, Sleep deprivation
is inversely proportional to hours of sleep and it may have
a substantial adverse effect on general health and quality
of life.[4,5,6]
Academic performance is defined as the extent to which
a student has achieved their short or long-term
educational goals. Cumulative Grade Point Average
(GPA) and the results that the students have achieved in
their High school or Bachelor degree courses represent
their academic performance. A cumulative grade point
average is a calculation of the average of all a student's
total earned points divided by the possible amount of
points. Existing evidence does suggest an association
between sleep and GPA. Students who obtained more
sleep (long sleepers > 8 hours) had higher GPAs than
short sleepers (< 6 hours).[7]
Cognitive functions can be defined as cerebral activities
that lead to knowledge, including all means and
mechanisms of acquiring information. Cognitive
functions encompass reasoning, memory, attention and
language and lead directly to the attainment of
information and, thus, knowledge. Chronic and acute
sleep deprivation negatively impact thinking and
learning.[8]
The current study hypothesized whether the academic
performance and cognitive functions of college students
may or are not affect by sleep deprivation.
Effect of Sleep Deprivation on the
Academic Performance and Cognitive
Functions among the College Students:
A Cross Sectional Study
Sumi Rose1, Sonumol Ramanan2
1 Assistant Professor
2 BPT Internee
College of Physiotherapy
Acharya Institute of
Health Sciences
Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
CORRESPONDENCE :
1 Sumi Rose, MPT
Asst. Professor
College of Physiotherapy
Acharya Institute of
Health Sciences
Bangalore
Karnatka, India.
E-mail:rosempt@yahoo.com
Original Article
ABSTRACT
Background: Sleep is an important biological necessity, College students often have
erratic sleep schedules, poor sleep hygiene and poor sleep quality, which might affect their
performance and cognitive functions.
Objective: To find out the effect of sleep deprivation on the academic performance and
cognitive functions among the college students.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional design- A self-administered paper
questionnaire was administered of first-year through final-year BPT, BMLT and BMIT
students. The grade point average was recorded for the academic performance.
Results: A total of 150 respondents, with a response rate of 75%, were obtained. 143
(95.3%) students obtained less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. The students
whose GPA was lower were associated with lesser sleep duration had sleep deprivation.
The cognitive functions of college students like memory, attention, concentration was also
impaired.
Conclusion: Academic performance and cognitive functions of the students who were
sleep deprived was poor. . Hence, appropriate sleep is integral part of better academic
performance and cognitive function.
Keywords: Sleep deprivation, academic performance, cognitive function, grade point
average
Hence , Current Research was intended to find how sleep
deprivation effect the academic performance and
cognitive functions of the college students?
The objectives of the study was to determine the effect of
sleep deprivation on the academic performance and
cognitive functions among the college students.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Research Design: Cross sectional design
Sample Size: 150 college students
Sampling Design: Convenient sampling
Source of Data: Data was collected from Acharya Institute
of Health Science, Bangalore.
Inclusion criteria:
Normal healthy college students
Participants with age group 18-24 years
Students willing to participate in this study
Exclusion criteria:
Students with any sleeping disorders like insomnia
Students on medications
Students with part-time jobs
PROCEDURE
200 healthy subjects (N=200) were included in the study
age group 18 to 24 years. Written consent was obtained
from all the 200 subjects. Each subject was screened for,
and excluded if the subjects had not met the inclusion
criteria. Then the purpose of the study was explained to
the subjects. An anonymous, voluntary, self-administered
questionnaire was given to the subjects. The GPA of every
subject was recorded. These average scores were
considered as their academic performance in the present
study.
DATA ANALYSIS
Performed using SPSS version 16. Descriptive statistics
were performed for the demographic variables. Mean,
standard deviation and percentage was calculated. PLUM
ordinal regression was done for GPA.
RESULT
The questionnaire was distributed to 200 students and
completed questionnaires were received from 150
students.
79 (52.7%) students feel that their academic performance
is hindered due to insufficient sleep. 118(78.7%) students
felt that they are sleep deprived as a college student.
Sumi Rose et. al
Journal of Chalmeda Anand Rao Institute of Medical Sciences Vol 14 Issue 2 July - December 2017 52
Table 1: Demographic information of 150 students
Characteristics
Descriptive Statistics
N
Minimum Maximum
Mean
Std.Deviation
Female 73 18.00 24.00 19.8493 1.31942
Male 77 19.00 24.00 20.7922 1.46303
Table 2: Parameters of sleep deprivation
Parameters
Highest
Regular 6-7 67 44.6% 7-8 7 4%
sleeping hours hours hours
Time taken to 30 86 57%
less than
22 14.7%
fall asleep at night
minutes
10
minutes
Yawing during very 70 46.7% not 4 2.6%
class hours often often
Frequency
%
Frequency
%
Lowest
Table 3: Focus on Performance and Cognitive Function
Do not sleep well
or lack of sleep
Yes
Unable to stay awake or 132 88% 18 12%
focused during classes
Unable to focus during exams 81 54% 69 49%
Feels less energy or motivation
125 83.3% 25 16.7%
Weakened immune system 62 41.3% 88 58.7%
Feels academic performance 79 52.7% 71 47.3%
is hindered
Frequency
%
Frequency
%
No
Table 4 : Grade Point Average
Grade Point
Average
4 (distinction) 1 NIL NIL 1 0.7%
3 (first class) 14 13 0.87% 1 0.7%
2 (second class) 24 21 14% 3 2%
1 (eligible) 34 21 14% 13 8.7%
0 (fail) 77 63 42% 14 9.3%
No. of
students
(Total
No.
=150)
No. of
students
who are
sleep
deprived
%
No. of
students
who are
not sleep
deprived
%
Effect of Sleep Deprivation on the Academic Performance and Cognitive Functions
Journal of Chalmeda Anand Rao Institute of Medical Sciences Vol 14 Issue 2 July - December 2017 53
Interpretation: This graph shows the students grade that
they have scored in the exams. According to the graph,
16 (10.7%) student had GPA> 4 , about 24(16%) students
had GPA=3, 35 (23.3%) had GPA =2 and about 75 (50%)
students had GPA =1.
Interpretation: Respondents were asked some questions
about the cognitive functions. Thus, the sleep deprivation
had a negative effect on the cognitive functions.
Interpretation: This graph shows that out of 150 students,
79 (52.7%) students feels that their academic performance
is hindered due to insufficient sleep.
Interpretation: The students were asked that whether they
felt that they are sleep deprived as a college student. 78.7%
students felt that they were sleep deprived and 21.3%
students felt they were not sleep deprived .
Table 5: Sleep deprivation and cognitive functions
Due to lack of sleep
Yes
Memory problems 106 70.7% 44 29.3%
Hallucinations 48 32% 102 68%
Negative mood/ 141 94% 09 6%
behavioural changes
Depression 108 72% 42 28%
Unable to pay attention or 147 98% 03 2%
to concentrate in the class
Feels sleep deprived as 118 78.7% 32 21.3%
a college student
Frequency
%
Frequency
%
No
Table 6: Sleep Deprivation and Academic Performance
Hindered academic
performance
Yes 7 9
No 71
No. of students
Table 7: Sleep deprived students in college
Sleep deprived
Yes 118
No 32
No. of students
Graph 1 : Sleep deprivation and cognitive functions
Graph 2 : Hindered Academic Performance
Graph 3 : College students who are sleep deprived
Sumi Rose et. al
Journal of Chalmeda Anand Rao Institute of Medical Sciences Vol 14 Issue 2 July - December 2017 54
m
X2 value is greater than the table value at 4 degree of
freedom and hence the null hypothesis is rejected and
research hypothesis is proved.
Sleep deprivation adversely affect the academic
performance and cognitive function. Hence sleep is an
integral part of good cognitive function thereby
improving academic function.
DISCUSSION
The main objective of the study was to find out the effect
of sleep deprivation on the academic performance and
cognitive functions in the college students. The results
concluded that majority of students obtain less than the
recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Obtaining
more than 7 hours of sleep per day for adults is essential
17 critical enough to be an objective by Healthy People
2020 to Improve national health.[18]
44.6% students in this study slept for 6-7 hours in the
night. Studies have indicated that sleep deprivation has
detrimental effects on the academic performance and
health.[16] BaHammam et al.[16] showed that students who
scored excellent in college had longer sleeping hours
during weekdays .This was supported by our results that
students whose GPA was < 4 were 149 (99.3%), out of
which 118 (78.7%) were sleep deprived. Also, a study in
University of Washington showed that less sleep-
deprived students have higher GPA than more sleep
deprived students.[19]
Out of 150 students, 81 (54%) students were unable to
focus during examinations and had a low GPA score. This
finding is consistent with Medeiros et al’s research among
medical students that found students who reported
sleeping for longer durations obtained higher scores on
examinations.[20]
In the current study, 86 (57.3%) students require 30
minutes to fall asleep at night, 42 (28%) students take 1
hour or more to fall asleep at night and 22 (14.6%) students
take only 10 minutes to fall asleep at night.
70 (46.6%) students yawn very often during the class
hours due to insufficient sleep. Hardly 4 (2.6%) students
do not often yawn during the class hours if they do not
get sufficient sleep. So, it is inferred that most of the
students who are sleep deprived yawn very often during
their class hours.132 (88%) students are facing problem
to stay awake or focused during the classes whereas only
18 (12%) students are able to focus in the classes due to
sufficient sleep. 125 (83.3%) students feel that they have
less energy or motivation throughout the day.
Around 66 (44%) students stress interfered their sleep.
44 (29.3%) students had lack of time management skills,
hence diminished the quality or quantity of their sleep.
In a study done by Ahrberg and colleagues (2012), they
found that different modes of stress affect the circadian
sleep rhythms of the students.[21] A study conducted at
James Madison University worked with 124 college
students, and results from the research revealed that over
50 percent of the students reported high levels of stress
that was related to academic workload and time
management , which was linked to unhealthy behaviours
such as decreased quantity of sleep (Britz and Pappas,
2014).[22]
Sleep has an integral role in learning and memory
consolidation, for memory formation of learned
information, thus enabling students to recall
information.[23] In the current study, 106(70.6%) students
have memory problems due to insufficient sleep. A study
by Curcio, Ferrara, and De Gennaro (2006) explored the
idea that sleep plays an essential role in learning and
memory.[24]
A study conducted by Shelley D Hershner and Ronald D
Chervin proved that depression and sleep are interrelated
and disturbed sleep is a cardinal feature of depression.[11]
Current study among 150 students, 108(72%) students
felt depressed if they have had insufficient sleep for
consecutive days. 48(32%) students felt hallucinations
in the night during sleep if they have had insufficient
sleep. Kelly and colleagues (2001), short sleepers are more
prone to hallucinate in the night.[25] 141(94%) students
experience negative mood or behavioural changes when
they had consecutive days of insufficient sleep and
147(98%) students face difficulty in paying attention or
to concentrate lectures in the class due to lack of sleep.
Most students had the effects of sleep deprivation on
academic achievements and the abilities of cognition. This
was supported by a study done by Pilcher and Walters
that showed that college students are unaware to what
extent their sleep deprivation has on their ability to
complete cognitive tasks and retain memory and
deterring them from academic achievement.[26]
Few strategies to increase sleep quality. Go to bed and
wake up schedule, will help the body get used to a regular
sleep cycle.[28] Conductive Bedroom for a distraction free
sleep by making it quiet, dark, comfortable in
Table 8: Plum Ordinal Regression For GPA
Model
Final
GPA - Sleep deprived
.000 16.094 4 .003
not deprived
-2 Log
Likelihood
Chi-
Square df Sig.
Effect of Sleep Deprivation on the Academic Performance and Cognitive Functions
Journal of Chalmeda Anand Rao Institute of Medical Sciences Vol 14 Issue 2 July - December 2017 55
temperature, a general relaxing environment, to make
sure that one’s bed is comfortable and is used only for
sleeping and not for other activities such as reading or
watching TV.[27] Students use common areas and the
library instead, because using the bed to complete stress
related activity such as college work can be destructive
to effective sleep.[28] Avoid large meals before bed time
.[27] based on the CDC’s general assessment of good sleep
hygiene .
The problem of sleep deprivation can be effectively solved
by integrating appropriate health interventions within
the college student population.
LIMITATIONS
1. Self-reporting of the sleep habits was relying on the
students’ subjective accounts, which raised the
possibility of accuracy.
2. Many hidden variables might have influenced the
measurement of academic performance such as self-
concept, motivational changes, mental stress, and
social class.
3. This study was only conducted at a single
institution, which makes it difficult to generalize
results to students of other institutions.
RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Future research could enhance generalizability and
provide further understanding of the effect of
students’ sleep duration and patterns.
2. Future researchers should ask participants to
perform a cognitive task and compare their results
to their average sleep hours per night.
3. Future researches to investigate effective and
feasible interventions, which disseminate both sleep
knowledge and encouragement of healthy sleep
habits to college students in a time and cost-effective
manner.
CONCLUSION
The main objective of the study was to find out the effect
of sleep deprivation on the academic performance and
cognitive functions in the college students. The results
concluded that majority of students obtain less than the
recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night. The sleep
deprivation had a negative effect on the students’
academic performance and the cognitive functions like
memory, attention, concentration etc. So, health education
programs regarding duration and quality of the sleep
should be emphasized in colleges to increase the
awareness of the importance of a healthy sleep. It is the
responsibility of the educators and college authorities to
identify the variables that lead to poor sleep quality and
take a active role to empower and educate college
students about good sleep habits to improve their
performance.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT:
Our gratitude to the participants , management, Principal
and staff of Acharya College of Physiotherapy, AIHS,
Bangalore.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST :
The authors declared no conflict of interest.
FUNDING : None
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... [7] Learning and consequent academic performance are influenced by sleep qualities. [8][9][10][11][12] Medical students have a very tight academic program that can predispose them to irregular sleep habit or short mean sleep duration. Wolfson and Carskadon [10] noted that the academic burden on medical students may lead to irregular sleep patterns and poor sleep quality with a resultant negative impact on their academic performance. ...
... The result of this study is in keeping with the findings of other studies which noted that their students were sleep deprived [22] and that poor sleep durations significantly affected the academic performance of school children and adolescents. [23] Rose and Ramanan [12] also reported that the majority of their students had less sleep than the recommended hours of sleep each night ...
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