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You Won't Believe How Common Sleep Disorders Are For Students!

Or if you're a student, you probably totally can...

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This work is a classroom product for the undergraduate Epidemiology (POPM*3240) course at the University of Guelph, and represents students’ thinking. It is not necessarily representative of the opinions of the University of Guelph.

You're not alone. Researchers at one university in the south eastern United States decided to find out how common these feelings were (Gaultney, J. F., 2010).

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Like you, 86% of students in a study conducted at a southeastern university in the United States reported frequently feeling tired after waking up: a common sign of sleep deprivation (Gaultney, J. F., 2010). Although the percentage of sleep deprived students is already high, it is believed that the proportion is underestimated due to students simply not reporting that they are tired (Gaultney, J. F., 2010). With such a high number of sleep deprived students, it is estimated that 27% of university students are at a higher risk of developing a sleep disorder compared to the general population (Canadian Sleep Society, 2005).

Other than waking up feeling tired, there are more common signs of a sleep disorder including:

Sleep disorders can often have long-term consequences that can lead to more than “feeling tired”.

Overall sleep deprivation can lead to decreased self-control, motivation, concentration, and can even slow brain development (Canadian Sleep Society, 2005)! These factors not only affect your academic career, but can affect workplace performance by increasing mistakes and decreasing punctuality (Canadian Sleep Society, 2005). Like a domino knocking over others, decreased academic or work performance can lead to decreased mood and self-esteem, increasing incidence of depression and isolation from peers (Canadian Sleep Society, 2005).

Many students often don’t realize the impact that sleep deprivation has on their academic and personal life!

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In a study where sleep deprived and non-sleep deprived students wrote a scored test. When asked to rate their performance, the sleep deprived students rated themselves much higher than the other group, when in fact they had scored significantly lower (Leproult et al., 1997)!

Some students may wonder: “Why can’t I just use coffee to pick me up in the morning?”

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Studies have shown that caffeine and other stimulants can’t actually restore the more demanding cognitive functions that are lost to sleep deprivation, although they will keep you awake (Killgore, 2010).

How can you change your habits to truly avoid sleep deprivation?

Here are some good sleep hygiene practices that can help you get some ~dreamy~ sleep:

Try our quiz to check if you should visit your doctor to talk about sleep habits:


1.Canadian Sleep Society. (2005). Adolescents and sleep: A guide to the sleep-deprived world of teenagers. Retrieved from

2.Division of Sleep Medicine. (2007). Twelve simple tips to improve your sleep. Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from:

3.Gaultney, J. F. (2010). The prevalence of sleep disorders in college students: Impact on academic performance. Journal of American College Health, 59(2). 91-97. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2010.483708

4.Killgore, W. D. S. (2010). Effects of sleep deprivation on cognition. Progress in Brain Research, 185. 105-129. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53702-7.00007-5

5.Leproult, R., Copinschi, G., Buxton, O., & Van Cauter, E. (1997). Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. Sleep, 20(10). 865-870. Retrieved from:

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