The national study of more than 55,000 college students was conducted by Monica Hartmann, PhD, chair of the College of Arts and Sciences’ economics program, and Roxanne Prichard, PhD, professor of psychology and neuroscience. The study found significant underutilization of sleep education and major effects of sleep in higher education settings, and found large value for higher education institutions to invest resources in supporting healthier sleep habits for students.
“How do you quantify it so you can make someone change their behavior? You can tell someone it will improve their grades; that is so abstract it doesn’t connect,” Hartmann said. “If you say, ‘Sleep decreases the likelihood you drop a course, which increases the likelihood you graduate, which also increases your lifetime earnings,’ you can start to get some estimate figures that make you realize this is worth it.”
According to the study, “Sleep disturbances were found to be a significant independent predictor of academic problems; on average, each additional day per week that a student experienced sleep problems raised the probability of dropping a course by 10 percent and lowered the cumulative GPA by 0.02. Factors such as stress, binge drinking, marijuana and other illicit drug use, which typically receive more attention by university administrators, had similar or relatively smaller negative associations with academic success as compared to disturbed sleep. Approximately three-quarters of students surveyed reported never receiving information about sleep from their university.”
The New York Times wrote about the study on Aug. 13, and the article has been shared nearly 12,000 times and potentially reached more than 49 million readers.
Other recent national coverage around the Center for College Sleep has included a story from the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s magazine.