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Sleep Disorders

12 September 2011

Students not getting enough Z's

Many college students aren't getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, a problem that could affect their ability to learn, a new survey says.

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Many college students aren't getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, a problem that could affect their ability to learn, a new survey says.

University of Cincinnati (US) researchers asked nearly 200 undergraduate college students aged 18 to 24 who did not live at home about their sleep habits. Most of them worked full- or part-time, and only 24% said they got at least seven to eight hours of sleep. More than half (55%) said they slept less than seven hours, and 21% slept more than eight hours.

Affects memory, concentration

Lack of sleep can impair concentration and memory, the lead researcher said.

"Sleep helps us save energy. It repairs cells in the body. And it's key for memory consolidation," study author Adam Knowlden, a doctoral student in the health promotion and education programme, said in a university news release.

"During sleep, the brain acts like a hard drive on a computer. It goes in and cleans up memories and makes connections stronger, and it gets rid of things it doesn't need," he explained.

"So if a student is sleep deprived, it affects the whole process. Students aren't able to learn; they're not able to remember; it's harder to concentrate and it affects mood. They're working their way through college and they're not maximising their learning potential."

Financial concerns and poor time and stress management were among the factors college students said hindered their ability to get enough sleep.


(Copyright © 2010 Health. All rights reserved.)

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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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