Sleep Deprivation and Learning Outcomes Among Students

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Patrick, Y., Lee, A., Raha, O., Pillai, K., Gupta, S., Sethi, S., … Moss, J. (2017). Effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive and physical performance in university students. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 15(3), 217–225. Web.

This paper focuses mainly on the effects of a night’s sleep deprivation on university students’ cognitive and physical performance. The research team conducted a randomized controlled crossover study. The participants’ overall number was 64, with 58% male students, and the mean age 22+-2 years; 89% of the sample completed the study. Students were divided into two groups: participants with normal sleep conditions and experienced sleep deprivation. To monitor sleep deprivation, the research team used an online time-stamped questionnaire. To analyze the collected data, the paired two-tailed T-tests and MANOVA were used. An important detail here is that all the participants were healthy university students. The researchers used the SIMON game mobile application to measure cognitive performance, which helped assess working memory span. Other measures were conducted using standard Stroop charts. The participants conducted two concordant volume-time spirometry traces to provide data on their physical performance and underwent the CPET: cardiopulmonary exercise testing. The study complied with ethical standards throughout every step of the experiment.

The results demonstrate that there was no significant impact on students’ cognitive performance, whereas physical abilities decrease among students with acute sleep deprivation. Thus, the “effect of sleep deprivation may not be as widespread in university students” (Patrick et al., 2017, p. 221). Although the results are counterintuitive and intriguing, one should be cautious when generalizing them. First, although the sample was quite balanced in terms of gender and physical characteristics, the study needs further testing on alternate equipment and a more extensive test selection. Second, the study focused on acute sleep deprivation; thus, one cannot extrapolate the results on the correlation between chronic sleep deprivation and cognitive performance.

Chen, W.-L., & Chen, J.-H. (2019). Consequences of inadequate sleep during the college years: Sleep deprivation, grade point average, and college graduation. Preventive Medicine, 124, 23-28. Web.

The study presented by Chen and Chen (2019) explores the relationship between sleep deprivation and learning outcomes among college students. It has become the common ground that sleep-deprived students exhibit worse performance since bad sleeping habits impact the brain and cognitive processes. However, this paper is worth particular attention for the reason that it substantially expands the sample on which the consequences of sleep deprivation are studied. The study relies on two waves of longitudinal data from the U.S. Wabash National Study, and the overall number of participants is 3549. The main objective of the study was to examine the causal relationship between sleep deprivation, GPA (grade point average), and subsequent graduation. The research team used models involving random and fixed effects to assess the relationship between sleep deprivation and GPA. To evaluate the relationship between sleep deprivation and graduation, the research team applied logistic regression.

The results demonstrate that chronic sleep deprivation leads to a decrease in students’ GPA. Consequently, sleep-deprived students had significantly lower chances of graduation. In addition, one of the insightful findings of this study is that sleep patterns during the senior year have more consequences on the students’ performance and outcomes than their freshman year. The authors explain this aspect with a higher concentration of required coursework. Another explanation for this can be that chronic sleep deprivation’s effects accumulate throughout the years. However, this study still relied on students’ self-estimated reports gathered with the help of a questionnaire. Although it is probably the only method that combines affordability and ethical standards, one should keep in mind the subjectivity of respondents’ assessment.

References

Patrick, Y., Lee, A., Raha, O., Pillai, K., Gupta, S., Sethi, S., Mukeshimana, F., Gerard, L., Moghal, M.U., Saleh, S.N., Smith, S.F., Morell, M.J. &Moss, J. (2017). Effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive and physical performance in university students. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 15(3), 217–225. Web.

Chen, W.-L., & Chen, J.-H. (2019). Consequences of inadequate sleep during the college years: Sleep deprivation, grade point average, and college graduation. Preventive Medicine, 124, 23-28. Web.

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