TUESDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Inconsistent sleep-wake patterns and insufficient sleep occur at alarming rates among college students, leading to various physical and psychological health problems, according to a study published online Aug. 3 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Hannah G. Lund, of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues had 1,125 students, aged 17 to 24 years, at an urban Midwestern university complete an online survey about their sleep habits that also included questions about academic performance, physical health, and psychoactive drug use.
More than 60 percent of the students were categorized as poor sleepers by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and they reported significantly more physical and psychological health problems than students who got enough sleep. The researchers found that students delayed bedtimes and risetimes on weekends and that they frequently took prescription, over-the-counter, and recreational psychoactive drugs to alter sleep/wakefulness. In addition, students overwhelmingly reported that academic and emotional stress negatively affected their sleep.
"These results demonstrate the insufficient sleep and irregular sleep-wake patterns, which have been extensively documented in younger adolescents, are also present at alarming levels in the college student population," the authors write. "Given the close relationships between sleep quality and physical and mental health, intervention programs for sleep disturbance in this population should be considered."