Monday, October 24, 2011

Sleep Hygiene Education and College Students

I saw an abstract in the Journal of American College Health where researchers did online surveys of students about their sleep quality and quantity. The students were mostly freshman and many reported problems with sleep that were related to sleep environments that were not conducive to sleep - the room has too much light, too warm, or too noisy. Also, the students had a difficult time winding down before bed and went to bed feeling unprepared for the next day.

The researchers did an educational campaign on campus that included information in the campus newspaper and posters placed in dorms about sleep hygiene. The sleep hygiene tips are the ones commonly presented in other sources of media and include topics like sleep-wake schedule, caffeine, exercise, and sleep environment. The students were then surveyed again and some reported an improvement in sleep quality / quantity after the sleep hygiene educational campaign.

This study does have some limitations (in the way it was carried out) and other studies have not shown that sleep hygiene by itself helps chronic insomnia, but these students were not diagnosed with that disorder. Despite its limitations, this study points out that simple interventions like sleep education can be helpful in improving the sleep habits of college students. And better sleep could improve academic performance.

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