Sleep Deprivation Has a Negative Effects on the Brain

Sleep deprivation is the condition of not getting the sufficient amount of sleep your body needs. It has been reported to affect the brain as well as cognitive function. This essay examines the question, “To what extent does sleep deprivation affect academic performance in students?” The essay investigated the question using reputable sources such as Internet sites and journals to find an answer to the research question. The essay begins by introducing the issue of sleep deprivation, the main causes of it, statistics, and its symptoms in order to provide background information for the essay.

The essay then continues and discusses the role of sleep deprivation as it relates to academic performance. The essay provides many studies in order to show the relationship between sleep quality and academic and cognitive performance by examining the amount of sleep deprivation in college students. These students were given surveys and questionnaires in order to determine their various sleep patterns and habits as well as their overall sleep quality.

Also, the studies include the students’ average GPA and performance on the exams based on these sleep variables. The next part of the essay deals with the results obtained in these studies and how it relates to the academic performance in students. Through this investigation, it is concluded that sleep deprivation plays a significant role in achieving school success showing that lack of sleep correlates to low academic performance.More than one third of Americans do not get the sufficient amount of sleep per day which can have many short and long term effects.

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Sleep plays an important role because it is essential for having and maintaining an overall good health and well-being. Yet, many people suffer from sleep deprivation, the condition of not having enough sleep. Sleep has been recognized for its importance on a person’s health and its even said that a sleep deprived person has similar impairments to a person under the influence of alcohol. Sleep has been reported to affect the brain as well as cognitive function.

Most people who are sleep deprived are unaware that they have this condition and don’t know the effects it has on one’s health. The purpose of this essay is to investigate the question, “To what extent does sleep deprivation affect academic performance in students?” Throughout a school day, many students are seen yawning, sleeping in class, dozing off and not paying attention to the teacher. In addition, it has been shown that those same students are the ones who aren’t doing well in school and are failing their classes. These observations become apparent when seen on a daily basis. Students who are sleep deprived may have problems paying attention and thus may receive lower grades. This problem should be addressed and students should be aware of the academic effects of not getting enough sleep. This essay will research and explore the relationship between the amount of sleep a student gets with their academic performance by presenting facts and statistics, causes of sleep deprivation and what it means to have good sleep quality, and the relationship between sleep and cognition, as well as using studies and questionnaires in order to see if there is a correlation between the two.

Sleep deprivation causes the individual to feel drowsy throughout the day and can interfere with one’s daily routine. If you notice yourself dozing off while participating in effortless activities such as sitting, reading, talking, and watching T.V., then you might be sleep deprived (National Institutes of Health, n.d.). According to Gallup News, “59% of Americans get 7 or more hours of sleep at night, while 40% get less than 7 hours” which shows how this impacts a large portion of the American population and is a serious issue among the nation (Jones, 2013). Some common symptoms individuals may experience if they are sleep deprived are persistent yawning, feeling disoriented or groggy, decreased attentiveness, and changes in one’s mood (Better Health Channel, n.d.). It becomes apparent that people who get insufficient amount of sleep have slower response times compared to those who are fully rested. Sleep deprivation disrupts and changes the way we interact and are aware with our surroundings/ environment (Davis, 2016).

Those who suffer from sleep deprivation usually are oblivious and believe they are capable of functioning normally. This has increased the risk of car accidents since individuals who are sleep deprived aren’t aware of the dangers this condition can have. In order for optimal health, there is a recommended amount of hours needed for sleep according to each age group. Adults that are 18 and older are recommended to sleep 7 to 8 hours per day (National Institutes of Health, n.d.). Those who follow the suggested amount of sleep will be able to function normally and well throughout the day. There are various different reasons as to why someone may be sleep deprived. Some individuals might suffer from a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, that interrupts their sleep numerous times throughout the night. But many of these causes are very common and occur often, whether intentional or unintentional. The amount of stress that is put on you, one’s dietary intake (smoking cigarettes, consumption of coffee or energy drinks, etc.) and exercise, personal choices, familial obligations, taxing jobs, continuously falling ill, and other factors, can all negatively affect one’s sleep and contribute to sleep deprivation (Villanova University, n.d.).

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), some important factors that contribute to having quality sleep include “Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time), falling asleep in 30 minutes or less, waking up no more than once per night, and being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep” (NSF, 2017). An individual’s sleep hygiene is their personal routines and practices that allows them to have a good night’s sleep in order to feel awake. Having a good sleep hygiene means maintaining an efficient, relaxing sleep regimen. Repeating the same practices allows for your body to get ready for sleep and know when it’s bedtime. Some examples of practices that can be helpful in maintaining a good sleep hygiene are taking a warm bath, meditating, or having some quiet time. Going to bed and waking up at the same time, avoiding naps, avoid watching TV right before bed, and avoiding drinks or substances that may interfere with your sleep are all important factors that one should be aware of when striving for good quality sleep. Having an irregular sleep routine due to unhealthy sleep habits can negatively affect your sleep and confuse your body.

In addition, your sleep environment plays an important role in your quality of sleep. Temperature, noise level, and light are just some factors of one’s environment that individuals need to take into account if they are having trouble sleeping. Moreover, many people are oblivious to the fact that our bodies require sleep and in turn decide to stay up late playing video games, on social media, or watching T.V., or don’t make the time for sleep due to school or work. Ignoring your body’s need for sleep can lead to a build up in your sleep debt and contribute to sleep deprivation (NSF, n.d.).

An individual’s quantity of sleep is essential for normal functioning, but it is not the only factor that contributes to better quality sleep. Your quality of sleep depends on the amount of time you take falling asleep, how frequently you wake up throughout the night, and the amount of time spent during each stage of the sleep cycle (Jones, 2017). The sleep cycle consists of 5 stages, where non-rapid eye movement is composed of stages 1-4 and rapid eye movement happens during stage 5 (Gordon, 2013). Stage one is the lightest sleep and occurs for only a short amount of time, stage 2 is relatively light as well, stages 3 and 4 is where deep sleep takes place (tough to wake someone up and if awakened, they will feel very groggy), and in stage 5 is where there is an increase in brain activity (Robbins, 2015). During the night, while you are sleeping, “your brain stays busy, overseeing biological maintenance that keeps your body running in top condition, preparing you for the day ahead” (Smith, Robinson, & Segal, n.d.).

Typically, a full sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes, but it varies according to each individual. Each stage has their own benefits that contribute to overall good sleep, therefore, not spending enough time in certain stages in the sleep cycle is another factor to consider if you are having symptoms of sleep deprivation (Gordon, 2013). Insufficient amount of sleep can have many effects on one’s physical health including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and one’s mental health including depression and anxiety (Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, 2008). Not only can sleep deprivation adversely affect your health but it can also affect cognition. Cognition is the way we think, perceive, understand, problem-solve, and other mental processes (Cherry, 2017). Sleep deprivation can impact our mental performance by impairing our ability to concentrate, make decisions, take in new and recall information (Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, 2008).

If sleep can alter our cognition and mental performance, then it has been said to influence a student’s academic performance. According to Oxford Bibliographies “Academic achievement represents performance outcomes that indicate the extent to which a person has accomplished specific goals that were the focus of activities in instructional environments, specifically in school, college, and university” (Steinmayr, Meißner, Weidinger, & Wirthwein, 2014). Academic performance can be determined and calculated by using a student’s grades, GPA (grade point average), or by using standardized tests. Many studies suggest that those who are sleep deprived perform worse than those who receive an adequate amount of sleep. In addition, many studies examine the impact of sleep on teens, adolescents, and undergraduate students.

Students tend to suffer from sleep deprivation due to the many changes they may experience when transitioning from high school to college. Many students have to adjust to a new environment and living space which can cause a loss of sleep. For example, living in a dorm with a roommate can lead to having to accommodate your sleep routine, which in turn can disorient your body and disturb your sleep. But one of the most important factors that students have a hard time adjusting to is how to balance their grades and their social life. This can be overwhelming and stressful for many when you no longer have your parents and instead are surrounded with other college students. Students tend to fall behind on their studies due to staying up late by going out and participating in social events, having to meet the demands of a job that may interfere with their school work, or procrastinating and having to stay up late to finish any assignments (Clevenger, 2013). Being involved in extracurricular activities and clubs can also affect students when trying to meet deadlines if they don’t manage their time wisely. Many resort to consuming energy drinks, coffee, or taking pills in order to help them stay up and get their work done, sacrificing their sleep time. These factors contribute to the sleep deprivation among college students.

Sleep deprivation, how tired you feel throughout the day, and having bad sleep quality and hygiene may prevent college students from achieving academic success in college. One way you can see the impact of sleep deprivation on academic performance is through the student’s grade point average (GPA). A student’s GPA is a composite/ average value of all their final grades indicating how well they have done overall in their courses. Some evidence shows that students who sleep 9 hours or more hours had on average a 3.24 GPA while students who sleep 6 hours or less had on average a 2.74 GPA (Hershner & Chervin, 2014).

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Sleep Deprivation Has a Negative Effects on the Brain. (2022, Apr 21). Retrieved from

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