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Restful sleep improves mental health, grades of college students

08 Dec 2020

College students who have frequent restful sleeps appear to have lower depressive symptoms and a better grade point average (GPA), a recent study has shown.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 4,376 college students (mean age, 20.9±1.5 years; 59.2 percent female). An online survey was administered to collect self-reported cumulative GPA, physical activity, frequency of restful sleep in the past week, diet, and depressive symptoms, as measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ).

Though moderate at most, the researchers noted important sex-linked differences. Males, for instance, reported having more frequent restful nights per week and higher levels of weekly exercise. Subsequent analyses were thus separated according to sex.

Nevertheless, reporting infrequent restful sleep (<4 nights per week) was associated with more depressive symptoms among males and females (p<0.001). The same was true for academic performance. Males with frequent restful sleep had better GPAs than their comparators (3.4±0.4 vs 3.3±0.5; p<0.001), as did females (p<0.008).

Logistic regression analysis, controlled for age and race, confirmed the significant effect of restful sleep on lower depressive symptoms (PHQ <3) and better GPA in both males (B, 1.97, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.41–2.76; p<0.001 and B, 1.33, 95 percent CI, 1.04–1.70; p=0.023, respectively) and females (B, 2.65, 95 percent CI, 1.97–3.56; p<0.001 and B, 1.29, 95 percent CI, 1.02–1.64; p=0.037).

“Findings of this study further reinforce the importance of sleep for students' mental health and academic performance,” the researchers said. “Thus, colleges should consider incorporating sleep into existing health promotion programs, such as freshman orientation, to inform students about the benefits of sleep to their physical and mental health and academic performance.”

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01 Dec 2020
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