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Research: Sleep Deprivation

News Story

Do we need nap time as adults? CHP faculty and students team up to figure out why college students forgo sleep and to what detriment.

There’s a popular college adage that goes “sleep, social life, or GPA—pick two.” Meaning, for many undergraduates, the necessity of a good night’s sleep often falls by the wayside. Between demanding classes, internships, extracurricular activities, and that next great show on Netflix, it could be tough for college students to catch those necessary Zs.

Knowing this, four Lienhard School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students—Shellene K. Dietrich, Coleen M. Jimenez, Melida D. Knibbs, Ishmael L. Umali, along with the faculty mentorship of Marie Londrigan, PhD, and Karen Martin, family nurse practitioner and associate director of the University Health Care Units—decided to delve into the relationship between sleep and college students a little bit more thoroughly. Through the beginnings of their comprehensive systematic review, the group uncovered some of the reasons why college students are sleep deprived and have begun a campaign to raise sleep awareness on campus. Sleep Awareness Week, which kicked off on March 28, has sought to help undergraduates better understand how to approach sleep in a healthier and more manageable way.

“We decided to focus on sleep deprivation within college students. Once we went that route, we did a systematic review…our research suggested that college students simply aren’t aware of sleep hygiene practices,” said Jimenez. 

As the group explained, basic habits such as establishing a consistent bedtime routine, going to sleep around the same time every night, and, the big one, avoiding those ever-present phone and computer screens, can go a long way in developing a significantly healthier sleep cycle. In hopes of spreading awareness—and as a means of continuing the research—the group developed Sleep Awareness Week, in which they compiled elementary sleep hygiene information and distributed it around campus. Basic tips include avoiding napping during the day, avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol use close to bedtime, and creating a relaxing bedroom environment that steers clear of bright lights. 

“We’re giving students these tips in the hopes that they’ll improve sleep habits, maybe decrease stress and make helpful lifestyles changes—they’ll be able to go to bed at a certain time, wake up for their morning classes. It’s to get the students attention, and hopefully start an awareness campaign,” said Dietrich. 

The group very much hopes that Sleep Awareness Week, conducted in conjunction with the College of Health Professions, Center of Excellence–Advancing Leadership and Scholarship (ALPS), will help Pace students become more cognizant of best practices in regards to establishing healthy sleeping routines. As the tagline of the Sleep Awareness Week posters diligently assert, snoozing is fundamental!