A survey of sleep disorders in college students: a study of prevalence and outcomes

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University of Alabama Libraries

Sleep complaints are prevalent among college students and are associated with a number of negative outcomes. It is known that college students frequently report difficulties falling asleep, daytime hypersomnolence, and fatigue. However, specific data regarding the presentation of sleep disordered symptoms and exact diagnostic prevalence are lacking. College students (n = 143) were recruited to complete sleep questionnaires and, if indicated, a brief clinical interview to determine the prevalence of sleep symptoms and resulting diagnoses. Additionally, these students also completed questionnaires assessing mental and physical health to determine any negative outcomes that may be associated with sleep complaints. Lastly, academic performance was assessed in all students with greater than 24 credit hours to determine the relation between sleep presentation and academic performance. It was found that sleep complaints were reported by 88% of students, based on a self-report questionnaire, but only 34% of students, based on clinical interview. Furthermore, a diagnosable sleep disorder was found in 24% of students. Insufficient Sleep Syndrome and Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder were the two most prevalent sleep disorders, both occurring in 8% of the sample. Insomnia was the next most prevalent sleep disorder, occurring in 6% of the sample. Students with a sleep disorder reported more physical and mental health complaints but not worse academic performance than students without a sleep disorder. These results suggest that sleep complaints and disorders are prevalent among college students. Furthermore, sleep problems are associated with increased mental and physical health complaints. However, it does not appear that sleep problems affect academic performance. These results suggest that sleep complaints are not only prevalent among college students but are associated with negative mental/physical health outcomes. Therefore, sleep symptoms should be considered in the management of students' health. Additionally, sleep education and, when necessary, sleep disorder treatment may improve college students' overall quality of life.

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Clinical psychology