Survey says sleep deprived students face increased chance of illness, poor grades

Michelle Poje

Students swamped with homework and obligations are missing out on their ZZZs and posing a safety risk to themselves and others, according to a survey recently released by the National Sleep Foundation.

Titled the Sleep in America Poll, the survey studied young adults in high school and college to find out what their sleep patterns are like. The results found that only 41 percent of respondents claim they get a full night’s sleep every or most nights, with 10 percent saying a good night’s sleep is a rare occurrence.

The poll was released in relation to the National Sleep Foundation’s ninth annual National Sleep Awareness Week, held March 27 to April 2. The week always coincides with daylight-saving time on the first Sunday of April.

And lack of rest may prove to be hazardous for young adults, especially if they’re operating a vehicle while sleep-deprived.

According to the survey, 51 percent of young adults drive while drowsy and 15 percent claim they do it once a week.

“I do feel that sleep deprivation can seriously affect students,” sophomore nursing major Jenni Gay said. “Sleepy students, especially those who commute as I do, are at a risk for automobile accidents.”

Kent Police Lt. Michelle Lee said she hasn’t noticed young adults driving drowsy and is surprised by the statistics.

“Police records don’t indicate if someone was pulled over for driving drowsy, but from what I’ve seen, more young drivers appear to be distracted by their radio or cell phone then by lack of sleep,” Lee said.

However, Lee offered tips for students who may find their eyelids getting heavy while driving.

“Pull over if you can, but if not, we recommend drivers do whatever they can to keep alert,” said Lee. “Turn up the radio, roll down the windows … we do not suggest, however, talking on the cell phone.”

The poll found lack of sleep can also affect students in school. At least once a week, 28 percent admit to falling asleep while doing homework. Getting to class on time or at all is also an issue 14 percent say they face due to lack of rest.

Cassie Soehnlen, a junior psychology major at Stark campus, said it’s her own time mismanagement that causes her to get to bed later.

“Even with losing time driving to school and work, I generally have enough time during the day to complete what I need for class,” said Soehnlen. “However, I think the pressure in being scheduled for so much of my day tends to lead to me wanting to use what free time I have for recreation versus completing school work.”

This leads to the late nights or early mornings scrambling to complete projects and not feeling well-rested on a regular basis, she said.

Gay said the issue for her is not mismanagement of time, but not having enough time.

“Waking up at the break of dawn for classes, for studying all day and then working in the evening or being active in extracurricular activities does a number on how well I sleep at night,” said Gay. “When I go to bed, I’m constantly thinking about the things I need to do for the next day and next week ahead.”

Sophomore architecture major Katie Starkey said she agreed.

“I definitely feel sleep-deprived due to schoolwork,” said Starkey. “If I just had studio work, I would still be busy, but you throw in physics, Structures, Architecture History and other crazy classes, and there is not enough time for sufficient amounts of sleep.”

But even with all the stress and time restraints, the poll found the biggest culprit in lack of sleep is the use of electronic devices in the bedroom like computers, telephones and televisions. Almost all respondents, 97 percent, have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms.

Contact public affairs reporter Michelle Poje at [email protected].