Between studying and socializing, college students often have crazy sleep schedules, and new research suggests that a lack of regular sleep may dampen students’ well-being.
“We found that week-long irregular sleep schedules are significantly associated with lower self-reported morning and evening happiness, healthiness and calmness during the week, even after controlling for weekly average sleep duration,” said study author Akane Sano.
A research scientist with the Media Lab Affective Computing Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she made her comments in a joint news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.
The study findings were based on a month-long tracking of more than 200 college students between the ages of 18 and 25.
For 30 days, investigators monitored when the students went to sleep and for how long. They also asked participants to keep diaries to assess overall feelings of well-being.
There was some good news in the study. Students who made an effort to establish reliably good sleep habits after a period of having not done so, ended up with an improved sense of well-being, the researchers said.
“Irregular sleep-wake schedules are common in our modern society,” Sano noted.
“Our results,” she added, “indicate the importance of sleep regularity, in addition to sleep duration, and that regular sleep is associated with improved well-being.”
The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. It was presented at a meeting this month of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Boston, and published in an online supplement to the journal Sleep.
There’s more on the importance of sleep at the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.