The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Academic Performance

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Sleep is an important biological necessity that all people need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It helps people work at an optimum level and is critical for brain functioning, helping with all the cognitive functions such as memory, learning, decision making, and critical thinking. This makes sleep extremely important for academic performance.

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However, research shows that not everyone is getting enough sleep to function properly, especially college students. Researchers state that sleep deprivation is one of the main reasons college students receive low academic scores aside from stress which contributes to sleep deprivation. The purpose of this research proposal is to examine what contributes to sleep deprivation and see how it then affects academic performance.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Academic Performance

Sleep is a vital necessity for people to live a healthy lifestyle in which they can function well and think properly. It helps with memory consolidation, learning, decision-making, and critical thinking (Gilbert & Weaver, 2010). Therefore, sleep deprivation is necessary for keeping these cognitive functions at an optimal level for performance wherever the person may be, whether it be at work, home, or even school. Unfortunately, not everyone receives adequate amounts of sleep in order to function properly throughout the day. These poor performances as a result of poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation is especially evident among college students. Since college students have such busy work, school, and social schedules to keep up with, their sleep cycles become negatively affected by it. They tend to have irregular sleep-cycles depending on the day of the week and report dissatisfaction with sleep as a result of poor sleep quality (Gilbert & Weaver, 2010).

Causes of Sleep Deprivation

There are many causes as to why sleep deprivation occurs in college students. 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 have to 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.

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