Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Sleep Sleep and Circadian Rhythms (London, UK) (2018) Proc Physiol Soc 42, C02

Poster Communications

Improving Student Sleep Quality and Quantity to Improve Higher Educational Experience

C. S. Qiu1,2, Y. Yu2, A. Cheema2, C. James-Harvey3, M. J. Morrell2

1. Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Newport, United Kingdom. 2. Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom. 3. University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Background: Poor sleep hygiene negatively impacts cognitive and physical abilities in students (Mah et al., 2018) and is common among students of higher education (Curcio et al., 2006). Moreover, a wide-range of literature explores the detrimental effect of poor sleep quality on learning. Methods: An anonymous, voluntary and self-administered questionnaire was made available to a cohort of medical students at Imperial College London (n = 113; 60 female). Demographic information was collected to determine existing sleep quality. Questions regarding understanding of, and desire for sleep hygiene interventions to improve their experience of medical education were created on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 5 (strongly agree) to 1 (strongly disagree). Students were also asked to rank, the aspects in their lifestyle that warranted the most attention for improvement. Results: Students from across all years strongly agreed that their sleeping habits could be improved (Mean [SD]: 4.13±0.86). Quantitative analysis revealed that there was strong consensus about the need to sleep better with sleep ranking top out of the six suggested categories for improvement. Equipping students with the time and energy management tools needed to maintain consistent sleep of adequate duration would be well received (3.73±0.97). Students understand the beneficial relationship between sleep with learning, and agree that a concerted intervention effort, such as having sleep promotion activities across campus would be beneficial for their education (3.65±0.90). A low quality of sleep negatively impacts activities in the morning (linear model, p=0.0006, overall adjusted r2=0.17) and in the afternoon (p=0.02), but not in the evening (p=0.06): more precisely, subjects reported to be more tired in the morning (1.03±0.97; 0=always tired, 3=never tired) than in the afternoon (1.52±0.83; Wilcoxon rank test, W=4011, p=0.0002). This study identified the main factors influencing sleep quality as the latency to fall asleep (p=0.00001), sleep duration (p=0.002) and frequency of dreams (p=0.03), together accounting for 29.0% (r2) of the variation in sleep quality using a linear model (p<0.0000001). The presence of a bed partner, pain, temperature, breathing problems and waking up at night did not significantly influence sleep quality (generalised linear model, p>0.05 for all variables). Summary: Students understand the importance of sleep and would be receptive of initiatives to improve sleep quality. Efforts in improving sleep quality should be directed in providing the resources to decrease the latency to sleep onset (Bartel et al., 2018) and to deep sleep to prevent dreams and increase sleep duration via naps (Hayashi, Motoyoshi & Hori, 2005). This may further improve the tangible results of the ever-increasing drive and innovation occurring in the higher education landscape.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements