Document Type

Presentation - Poster - Presentation


Effects of college students' sleep habits on self-reported sleep quality and short-term memory


Education & Psychology

Date of Activity



Nearly 75% of college students report having poor sleep quality. Students’ poor sleep habits may not only affect sleep quality, but may also affect cognitive performance, which is an important facet of college success. There is a paucity of research addressing the effects of nocturnal sleep quality on young adult populations. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of early and late sleep on students’ self-reported sleep quality and short-term memory.

Participants were 37 undergraduate students (18 men and 19 women) enrolled in a developmental psychology class. The duration of the experiment was two weeks. Before the two-week period, the participants completed the PSQI, a 19-item self-rated questionnaire and a section for the respondent’s roommate or bed partner to complete and a 30-item short-term memory test. After the completion of the PSQI and the short-term memory test, the participants were randomly assigned to Group A or B. Participants in Group A were instructed to go to bed before 10:00 p.m. for a two-week period and the students who were in Group B were instructed to go to bed after midnight for a two-week period. At the end of the two week period, the participants turned in their sleep logs and completed the PSQI and the short-term memory test.

We hypothesized those students who go to bed before 10:00 p.m. have better sleep quality than those who go to bed after midnight. Both groups were equivalent on major sleep quality components and short-term memory pre-test. After the two-week intervention, results show that, on average, Group A had a better sleep quality score than Group B. An independent-samples t-test used to test the null hypothesis that this difference in sleep quality between the groups was statistically significant {t = - 2.68, p = .01}.

The second hypothesis of this study was that participants who go to bed before 10:00 p.m. have better short-term memory than participants who go to bed after midnight. Results show that both groups short-term recall was at a similar level with their being able to correctly remember the same number of words.

The results of this experiment suggest that early time to bed may be just as important to sleep hygiene as a steady sleep cycle. It is feasible that early time-to-bed in conjunction with regular sleep cycles may provide the best sleep quality. There needs to be further empirical inquiry that assesses each of these sleep habits as well as their interaction with each other. The effect of time to bed on the consolidation of memory should be further analyzed. In addition, evaluating the role gender plays in the memorization of certain types of words needs to be examined in an effort to make sense of the multiple factors that relate to sleep and memory.

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