Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

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Sleep is an important biological necessity that all people need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sleep allows people to recharge for a new day with sufficient energy levels and is one of the most important factors that aid in critical brain functioning, aiding with all cognitive functions such as: memory, learning, decision making, and critical thinking. This makes sleep extremely important for academic performance.

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Research show that undergraduates are the majority of people who don’t receive the amount of sleep they should be getting. Researchers state sleep deprivation is why majority of undergraduates receive low academic scores aside from stress which contributes to sleep deprivation. The purpose of this proposal is to find out what factors are involved in creating the epidemic of sleep deprivation in academics.Sleep is a living necessity for everyone to live a healthy lifestyle in which they canFunction well and think properly. It assists in memory consolidation, learning, decision making, as well as critical thinking (Gilbert & Weaver, 2010).

Therefore, keeping a solid and sufficient sleeping schedule is necessary for keeping these cognitive functions at sufficient levels for positive performance outlook for the person, whether it be at work, home, or even school. It would be ideal for everyone to receive adequate amounts of sleep in order to keep a positive outlook and determination to accomplish goals throughout the day. Poor and low performances are a result of poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation is especially evident among undergraduates. Since undergraduates have such busy work, school, and personal lives to attend to, sleep cycles begin to be overrun by it in a negative manner that can cross over affect those other factors themselves. Depending on the day of the week they tend to have irregular sleep-cycles because their sleep schedule may vary from day to day because of their activities throughout the week and may report dissatisfaction with sleep as a result of poor sleep quality (Gilbert & Weaver, 2010). There are many causes as to why sleep deprivation occurs in undergraduates. In a study done by Ahrberg and his colleagues (2012), they found that different modes of stress affect the circadian sleep rhythms of the students. OF these modes of stress, stress from work and school are the most prevalent. A working student can feel stress from going to school, then working to hard at their job, and then having to come home to do more schoolwork until the early hours of the day. Students who do not have a job may also feel the same stresses as working students if they spend too much time procrastinating and must spend time working on schoolwork until the early morning as well.

Ahrberg and his colleagues (2012) also state that as a result of sleeping this late, sleep deprivation acts as another stressor on the student.More causes of sleep deprivation as stated by Tsai and Li (2004), are gender and grade differences. In Tsai and Li’s study, they found that female students tend to receive lesser sleep with poorer sleep quality and more awakenings in the middle of the night compared to male students. The male students would receive more sleep with better quality. This is because women went to bed later but rose earlier. According to Tsai and Li (2004), younger students such as undergraduates also tended to sleep less than seniors no matter what their gender. This may be because of fewer workloads and the more relaxed attitude of seniors since they have their life more balanced out as opposed to the incoming freshmen that are just trying to figure things out. The undergraduates may feel more stress as they try to balance having a social life and keeping up with their academics at the same time. As a result, sleep deprivation can be caused by both gender differences and grade differences. Many studies in the past have shown that sleep deprivation does correlate with poor academic performance because of lower abilities in cognition as a result of poor sleep quality. In the study done by Gilbert and Weaver (2010), the two researchers found that sleep loss interferes with a student’s academic, extracurricular and vocational choices. They also found that the number of hours students sleep in a 24-hour period has greatly decreased over the years while sleep dissatisfaction has increased.

Another study done by Medeiros and three other colleagues (2001), found a correlation between poor academic performances and sleep deprivation but in this study, they analyzed how irregular sleep cycles can be the result of different days of the week. For example, their participants tended to have prolonged sleep during the weekends because of their loss of sleep during the weekdays because of school (Medeiros et al., 2001). Since humans have the tendency to continue sleeping late as the result of their human circadian rhythm, sleep deprivation is further worsened (Medeiros et al., 2001). As stated before by Ahrberg and his colleagues (2012), stress can also worsen the desynchronization of circadian rhythms and make people moody and cause them to not be as alert as they should be. In a similar study done by Kelly, W. and two other colleagues (2001), they also found that sleep deprivation greatly affects a student’s ability to perform well in their classes. This is evident through the students’ GPA’s. Kelly and colleagues reported that people who slept 9 hours or more in a 24-hour period had significantly higher GPA’s than short sleepers who sleep 6 hours or less in a 24-hour period. These short sleepers also tended to show signs of anxiousness, were less creative, more neurotic, and more prone to hallucinate as well (Kelly, Kelly, & Clanton, 2001).

The purpose of this research is to examine what contributes to sleep deprivation and see how it then affects academic performance. Past research has shown the effects of stress, gender, and grade differences on sleep deprivation. It would also be interesting to see if there are other factors that worsen sleep deprivation. Hypothesis: Participants who are female, have high amounts of stress, and are college freshmen are more likely to experience more sleep deprivation and as a result perform poorly academically.

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