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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Get an extra hour of sleep

Most UA students have what would be considered a sleep disorder, according to a study conducted on campus that will be published in the Journal of American College Health.

“”One of the biggest reasons why is — surprise, surprise — because they aren’t getting enough sleep,”” said Lee Ann Hamilton, assistant director of Health Promotion and Preventive Services at Campus Health Service and one of the study’s co-authors.

Those surveyed, mostly freshmen that lived on campus, reported that they averaged close to seven hours of sleep and took about 26 minutes to fall asleep.

Hamilton said 25 years ago, students would get an average of eight hours of sleep, “”which, statistically, it’s a big difference.””

New technology and social media are the main reasons for that lost hour, according to Hamilton.

The study also finds that 54 percent of students surveyed skipped class due to poor sleep the night before and 46 percent would fall asleep or show signs of sleep loss — difficulty with focusing, concentration or remembering — during class.

Gender was also a significant factor in the study’s results.

“”Women were having a harder time (with sleep quality) in the fall compared to the men, but by the time the spring semester had rolled around, those differences had washed out,”” said David Salafsky, director of Health Promotion and Preventive Services at Campus Health and a co-author of the study.

Salafsky, Hamilton and co-author Kathryn Orzech, a postdoctoral fellow in the Chronobiology and Sleep Research Laboratory of E.P. Bradley Hospital at Brown University and former UA doctoral student, found that male students experienced significantly worse sleep from fall to spring, ending with similar sleep qualities as female students.

Salafsky and Hamilton said they were unsure as to what could account for the difference between male and female students.

Even though the study initially only looked at the sleep quality among UA students, Hamilton said that the topic of sleep allowed students to talk about mental health issues.

Overall, the women surveyed were more likely than men to report conflict issues with family members, friends and significant others during the academic year. But the most frequently reported mental health issue by both men and women was experiencing anxiety.

The study formed the basis for Campus Health Service’s current sleep education campaign and its recommendations for getting better sleep.

“”If we could change one thing that would have improved (students’) sleep quality, getting them to get more than six hours of sleep really would have made a difference,”” Salafsky said.

If getting more sleep may not be possible sometimes, Hamilton offered this suggestion.

“”A lot of students would be well served if they set an alarm for when to go to sleep,”” she said. “”The idea of keeping a regular bedtime is a new concept for a lot of people. We tend to think only about the morning time. If we could all go to bed more regularly, we would all sleep better.””

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