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Texting linked to sleep problems among college students


Thursday, October 03, 2013

It is no secret that a lack of sleep can negatively impact student learning outcomes. Without adequate rest, college students can experience difficulty concentrating, retaining new information and a range of other problems. According to a small study recently conducted by Karla Murdock, a professor of psychology at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, heavy text messaging may also contribute to sleep disturbances among college students.

Strong ties
The study aimed to identify whether students' texting behavior correlated to a range of academic and personal difficulties. All of the students polled as part of the research project were in their first year of college, and were asked to answer a series of questions relating to their stress levels, emotional well-being and feelings of burnout. In addition, participants were asked to provide information on how many text messages they sent and received during a typical day.

Based on the students' responses, Murdock concluded that the volume of text messages sent and received by students directly correlated with a sleep difficulties and associated academic problems.

"These correlational findings provide an initial indication that heavy text messaging could be problematic during times of stress," Murdock wrote. "Although speculative, it could be argued that text messaging is a uniquely unsuitable mode of communication for coping with interpersonal stress in close relationships."

A common problem
According to data from Harvard Medical School, sleep deprivation is a serious problem at college campuses across the country. Just 11 percent of American college students get enough rest on a regular basis, and 40 percent of students feel well-rested for just two days of the week.

In addition, a lack of sleep interrupts all three of the major learning processes - acquisition, the means through which people receive and store new information; consolidation, the phase during which memories of new facts are strengthened; and recollection, the process in which information is retrieved by the brain.

With such considerable potential for disruption, it is vital that students get enough sleep on a regular basis. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of rest per night; so, if you're planning to burn the midnight oil to work on a term paper or cram for a test, you may want to reconsider.

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