Monday, September 27, 2010

Sleepless College Students Risk Academic Failure

The all-night cram sessions, after-hours parties and early morning tailgates that characterize the college experience leave little room for sleep. All the excitement and academic stress is putting college students at risk for sleep disorders.

A study in the Journal of American College Health reports more than a quarter of students could develop at least one sleep disorder due to their lifestyle. Students who burn the candle at both ends have a higher risk of failing out of school.

27 percent of the 1,845 students surveyed at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte reported irregular sleep patterns and symptoms of sleep deprivation. Many students said they shifted their sleep schedule on weekends to make up for the school week.

A high percentage of the sleepless students posted failing grades according to school records. At-risk students averaged a 2.65 Grade Point Average; normal sleepers had an average 2.82 GPA.

Physical and mental health problems are common in poor sleeping college students. Tension and stress are predictors of low sleep quality for students, a 2009 study shows. Only 30 percent of students in the 2009 study reported at least eight hours of sleep per night.

Sleep deprivation may be common in college, but it’s not difficult to make sleep a priority. Flexible scheduling allows students to develop a routine that suits their individual chronotypes. Night owls should stay away from early-morning classes and opt for evening offerings instead. Many schools are increasing the number of evening classes offered per semester. Some schools are evening scheduling classes that end after midnight.

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