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Questionnaire-Derived Sleep Habits and Academic Achievement in First Year University Students

This study aimed to determine the effect of sleep quantity and quality via the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) on students' academic achievement in their first year of university study. In this cross-sectional study, 193 students (102 female, 91 male, mean ± SD; age = 19.3 ± 2.9 y) from an undergraduate Health degree in New Zealand completed the PSQI four weeks prior to the end of the semester in their first year of university study. Results from three core subjects in the first semester were averaged and correlations between the PSQI and academic success were evaluated using Spearman's rho (ρ). The group were also trichotomized using a PSQI global score of ≤5 as the threshold for "good" sleepers (n = 62, 32%), a score of 5-8 for "moderate" sleepers (n = 63, 33%) and a score ≥8 to characterize "poor" sleepers (n = 68, 35%). Overall, students averaged 7 h 37 min of self-reported sleep duration with an average bedtime of 22:55 p.m. and wake time of 8:01 a.m. There was a significant, small inverse relationship between academic performance and bedtime (p = 0.03, ρ = -0.14), with those going to bed earlier having superior academic success. The trichotomized data demonstrated no significant differences in academic performance between students with poor, moderate and good sleep quality (p = 0.92). Later bedtimes were associated with lower academic performance in a group of first year university students. However, there were no other relationships observed between academic success and self-reported sleep quality or quantity as determined by the PSQI. Enhancing awareness of the impact of sleep timing on academic success should be prioritized and strategies to improve sleep hygiene should be promoted to university students.
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