Students at the university report significantly worse quality of sleep than the general population, including inconsistent sleep schedules and sleep deprivation. They also suffer more daytime sleepiness than the general population. Students also report significantly less total hours of sleep each night than the daily recommended amount, to promote normal cognitive functioning for their age group. Students tend to sacrifice sleep to participate in social and academic commitments that contribute to ever changing routines of sleep and poor sleeping habits. All of these factors can affect aspects of the average life of the university student, including mood, function of the immune system and even substance abuse. Usual night reading can thus affect academic performance, possibly because of the reduced sleep and poor sleep quality of the usual night readers.
This study focused on assessing the student’s ability to perform academically in relation to his or her sleep quality. Despite the fact that a vast amount of time is spent learning and improving education in adolescence, there is a large gap in research that examines the relationship between sleep and academic functioning and performance. There is a lack of knowledge of very simple changes in sleep hygiene to improve the quality of sleep in university students, and their overall academic performance thereafter. The aim of this study was to answer the following research question which is: Does the duration of the sleep affect the overall academic performance of university students? A questionnaire was developed to determine sleep habits, subjective perceptions of one’s own quality of sleep and any factors affecting sleep management and academic performance in university students. The hypothesis was that students with a longer duration of sleep will have a better academic performance demonstrated by a higher grade point average (GPA) The researcher proposed to investigate the need to implement a component of the sleep education program to improve the overall sleep quality in university students.
Despite the fact that a vast amount of time is spent learning and improving education in adolescence, there is a large gap in research that examines the relationship between sleep and academic functioning and performance. There’s a connection between sleep quality and academic performance of the students. Health concerns that may arise in students with sleep deprivation, which include depression, fatigue, and difficulties with attention, concentration, decision making, learning, and memory facilitation. The result of daytime sleepiness is decreased attention and concentration, which adversely affects learning and memory recall in students. There are many different variables in the sleep environment for the students, such as intrusive light or noise, which may affect their sleep quality. The amount of rapid eye movement (REM)sleep cycles, memory consolidation and learning the student receives, and how sleep schedule irregularity and napping can affect the quality of sleep of the student by delaying the body’s natural circadian rhythm and homeostatic sleep drive, determines the sleep duration the student is able to obtain. Sleep is an important physiological process crucial to human survival. Among the most important functions of sleep is the enhancement of optimal cognitive functioning such as attention, insight, decision making, speech, and most notably learning and memory, factors that are very important for efficient undergraduate student academic performance. The sleep quality is measured according to both quantitative and qualitative dimensions. The quantitative component covers the duration of sleep while the qualitative component is a subjective measure of the depth and feeling of restfulness at awakening. It has been documented that sleep quality is a predictor of academic achievement. Stress can also be associated with the demand for high academic performance among University students. Perceived stress is an individual’s feeling or thought about how much stress they’re under at a given point in time or over a given period of time. Some factors associated with stress in an academic environment include high parental expectations, exam frequency, academic curriculum vastness, and anxiety about future employment opportunities.
It has also been shown that perceived stress affects the sleep pattern and quality of sleep of the undergraduate students. One model framework that is likely to explain stress among undergraduate students is the transactional stress model, which suggests that the level of stress experienced as a result of external stressors in the form of thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviour, depends on situational assessments that involve judging whether internal or external demands (in the academic environment). A significant association between stress and academic performance has been reported. Too much stress leads to poor performance at academia. It was also associated with substantial psychological morbidity that could potentially also reduce academic performance. One (1) out of every two (2) students has poor sleep quality amongst the student population studied. This is particularly disturbing given the negative effect of poor sleep quality on the physical and psychological functioning of this subset of human population, most notably the cognition. In addition, there was poorer academic performance among students who had extra courses carried over from previous semester. This could be because failure of a course automatically reduces the CGPA of students which was the index used in this study to measure academic performance.
Failure in academic examinations can also erode students ‘ self-efficacy which has been reported to be the strongest single predictor of the academic achievement and performance of college students. Students engaged in part-time work were more likely to have poor sleep quality than students with no part-time job. This is probably because adding part-time work to academic hassles can potentially increase the psychological stress that can make the quality of sleep worse. Also, this part-time job schedule can affect their sleep pattern, as some of them may be working during the night. Students with good sleep quality had better academic performance in this study than those with poor sleep quality, perhaps because adequate sleep is important for memory consolidation that is important for academic performance. Moreover, this poor sleep may affect some parts of the brain, particularly the frontal and parietal regions, including subcortical structures such as basal ganglia and thalamus. These structures regulate arithmetic calculation, logical reasoning, care, decision-making and emotional processing planning, control of inhibition which is very important for good academic performance. This observation could be of public health significance as it shows that interventions that can improve the quality of sleep among the population of undergraduate students are likely to improve their academic performance.