21 Sleep Deprivation Statistics in College Students

The CDC recently recommended that the average person get about 7 hours of sleep per night, down from the usual 8 hour recommendation of which many are familiar. For college students, however, the amount of sleep that is obtained every night, on average, can be quite a bit lower.

According to recent research, the average college student gets less than 7 hours of sleep per night.

Deprivation Statistics in College

It isn’t uncommon for a college student to go long periods without sleep because of the plethora of activities that they have going on. Between sports, academic clubs, jobs, and everything else that is going on, a sleepless night is often on the agenda. In turn, this affects the mood of the student, their health, and ultimately their grades. The bottom line? Sleep does matter.

  • College students who are sleep deprived are at a higher risk of getting sick because their immune systems are running at reduced levels.
  • A lack of sleep has a direct correlation with the amount of stress that a college student can handle on a regular basis.
  • The Freshman 15 is often thought to be caused by new freedoms of choice, but it is often caused by the body requiring extra calories to function because not enough sleep has been had.

At its most severe state, sleep deprivation can even cause death. Although the average college student isn’t going to reach that stage, they can do more harm than good to themselves even if it seems like short-term gains are going to be realized. It might seem like a good idea to stay up a couple nights to cram for a test, but that starts a cycle where the student begins to feel run down. That creates high blood pressure, poor eating habits, and a number of other issues that lead to lower grades instead of higher ones. Sleep is important because it gives the mind a chance to rest and restore itself in its own unique way.

How Prevalent is Sleep Deprivation in College Students?

  • 7 out every 10 college students say they get less than the recommended amount of sleep every night.
  • 68% of college students say that they have trouble being able to fall asleep at night because they’re stressed out because of their academics or something that is affecting them emotionally.
  • 12% of students who don’t get enough sleep every night end up falling asleep in class at least 3 times per month.
  • During a normal week of college classes, 20% of students will pull at least one all-nighter every month.
  • 35% of college students say that they stay up until at least 3am a minimum of one night every single week.
  • College students in the United States rank dead last in the amount of sleep that they get on average in a worldwide study that was conducted in 2013.
  • Sleep deprivation starts as an early habit, as 73% of children as young as 9 don’t get enough sleep in a survey of students taking math and science tests.

Although the statistics seem extraordinarily high and they do lead the world from a US perspective, the global average of sleep deprivation is 46.5%. When compared to the other end of the scale, however, where only 12% of students in Kazakhstan are sleep deprived, it is clear that there is more pressure on students in countries that are more affluent. Whether it is a pressure to succeed, an internal trigger that demands perfection, or just too much work being accepted in the first place, the harsh reality is that today’s students are just hurting themselves when it comes to a lack of sleep. In literacy tests, the number in the US jumps another 3%.

What Causes Sleep Deprivation?

  • Many believe that the main sources of modern sleep deprivation come from computer screens as they emit a blue light that creates a stimulating effect on the mind.
  • Any screen has the ability to create this effect, including a tablet or a smartphone, which are becoming prevalent items in the hands of students today in affluent countries.
  • The use of caffeine right before it is time to sleep can cause many issues as it can have a life of 8-12 hours within the average body, causing someone to become sleepless until midnight even if they had one cup of coffee at lunch.
  • Widely varying sleep cycles can disrupt the Cyrcadian rhythm just as much as looking at a screen less than a food away from your face can. Sleeping in during the weekend can cause sleeplessness during the week.

The issue is really one of habits when it comes to the college student more than anything. When a good routine can be developed that includes time for studying, then it is entirely possible to cram for a test and still get a good amount of rest. The proof is in the routines of the Asian countries that rate well in math. They focus on after-class studying that occurs immediately after school and extends for several hours instead of allowing break times between school and studying. This results in higher academic levels and more hours of sleep every night.

What Are the Facts About College Student Sleep Deprivation?

  • 18% of male college students and 30% of female college students have reported suffering from insomnia at least one night during the past 90 days.
  • Only 11% of students say that they get a good amount of sleep every night.
  • The average college student spends as much time traveling during their average day as they do for sleeping.
  • Getting 6 hours of sleep per night on average causes a 1.7 greater risk of suffering from disease or death.
  • 23.2% of people who don’t get enough sleep every night report that they have trouble being able to concentrate on things.
  • The most common reason why sleep is sacrificed is because there is homework that needs to get done.
  • About 8% of students don’t even get 5 hours per sleep on average during their usual weeknight while classes are in session.

It’s not just an inability to focus on things that is a problem for college students who don’t get enough sleep. There can be problems with memory recall, being able to pay attention, or even driving. There are also long-term consequences outside of health issues that can create issues as well as poor financial decisions typically come from a lack of sleep and stress-relieving activities, like working on a hobby, are reduced. Get enough sleep and these issues disappear.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation