Effect of Improper Sleep Patterns on Health

Effect of Improper Sleep Patterns on Health

Effect of Improper Sleep Patterns on Health




Academic excellence is a priority to many students. The need for success subjects them to overwhelming pressure, which calls for sacrifice, especially on timely aspects. The hard economic times have called for drastic measures for the sake of survival. Many students are now involved in daytime jobs or other side hustles. Such students will opt for evening and night classes to cover for their absence in daytime classes. From much data collected and the ongoing trends in students’ life, the need for academic excellence surpasses the concerns over a healthy life style. Students attending online night classes may be living independently, balancing their academic demands with financial responsibilities arising from the need of support.

The biological consequences attached to the late night exposure of very hazardous rays from the computers or other online gadgets add to the already interfered sleep patterns. Despite the benefits that come from the undying quest for knowledge, other preliminary researches have revealed an overwhelming cost effect associated with staying late at night. Due to lack of information, knowledge or possibly, ignorance, many have ignored the costs embedded in sleeping poorly. Sleeping poorly will increase the risk of having a very poor mental health, and in the same way, sufficient sleep will improve our mental health, thereby the general health.

Of late, one of the characteristic trait of the modern society is sleeplessness-related risks. Epidemiological data suggest that a large part of the population in the current world has chronically inadequate sleep, resulting to sleeplessness-related disorders.

Psychology experts all agree that the minimum required time for a person to sleep is an approximate of 7 hours per night. This belief has however contradicted some of the experimental data that points out on the negative effects of cumulative partial sleep deprivation (PSD), such as poor cognitive performance, immunological and metabolic variables.

Literature review

Sleep is an active, repetitive and reversible behavior serving several different functions such as repair and growth, learning or memory consolidation and restorative processes: all these occur throughout the brain and the body (Krueger, 2003). Adequate sleep is not a luxury but a biological necessity for any human being. Good mental performance and physical health depends on the maintenance of adequate sleep. According to a poll conducted by the national sleep foundation (2000), fifty- five percent of the young adults ages 18-29 wake up unrefreshed. Thirty-three of the young adults report daytime sleepiness, which is similar to the twenty nine percent of shift workers reporting daytime sleepiness (National Sleep Foundation, 2006). The Lack of sleep results to additional fatigue, which transcends to a number of human errors that may have catastrophic consequences. The upward surge in percentage of complex health issues caused by lack of sleep is shocking, with a shocking revelation on enormous costs and other related accidents. E.g., the evidence relating car accidents experienced by teenage drivers to lack of sleep is substantial. There is also clear evidence that several catastrophic accidents in nuclear power plants and in transportation disasters involved human errors by personnel who had inadequate sleep and who were often working late in night shifts (Mitler, 1988)

Many of the western societies are leading the pack of innovation and technological advancements, with technological integration in many of their day-to-day activities such as education. Although the E-learning program has been beneficial to many, the time adjustments and change in biological factors is very alarming. Many students have opted for night studies and classes as a way to get by, their busy schedule. The online late night classes use a good portion of their sleep time, undoubtedly affecting their general performance. Due to these demands, working college students show an irregular sleep pattern along the week and a sleep rebound during the free days (Fischer, 2003). Consequently, they report excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty in maintaining attention and poor performance (Gilbert, 1990). Some studies have also reported a relationship between lack of sleep or short sleep duration and obesity. In addition to that, delayed sleep timing is highly likely to result to insomnia, a common sleep disorder in this generation.

Recent studies show that individuals who sleep six hours or fewer in twenty-four hours(short sleepers) as compared with those who sleep nine hours in twenty four hours(long sleepers) have more neurosis, less creativity, report more hallucinations, more eating disorders and exhibit lower academic performances (Kelly, 2002). The irregular sleep patterns lead to difficulty arising for early morning activities during the week and increase sleepiness during the week, a behavior known as delayed sleep phase syndrome (Krystal, 2003). Reasons for suggested decrease in sleep include sleep being seen as not important and being sacrificed to socializing (Adam, 2007) employment, technology (Van den Bulk, 2004) and early school start times (Carskadon, 1997). In Australia, 17% of adolescents do not meet the nine-hour sleep duration requirement (Blunden, 2010). In fact, based on these data for sleep duration and with increasingly delayed bedtimes (Dolman, 2007), sleep loss is emerging as a worldwide adolescent problem that has been reported across countries and cultures (Olds & Blunden, 2010) despite the significant impact of sleep problems reported above, awareness in the community is low (Archbold, 2002). Psychosocial factors associated with later bedtime and insufficient sleep includes increased academic workload, increased part-time employment, and the use of technology particularly in the bedroom (Knutson, 2009). Biological factors include the puberty-related delay of the circadian body clock and reduced homeostatic sleep drive at bedtime (Carskadon & Richardson, 1997)

Researchers have identified several changes in sleep patterns, sleep systems and circadian timing systems associated with puberty (Carskadon, 1999). These changes contribute to excessive sleepiness that has a negative impact on daytime functioning in adolescents, including their increasing risks to injury (Wolfsan and Carskadon, 1998). According to many scientists and psychologists, conflicts between psychosocial factors, behavioral factors and psychological factors that influence the sleeping habits in humans are the real cause behind the sleep related problems.

On another part, researchers have identified a link between the lack of sleep and increased incidence of depression. The level of sleep deprivation can lead to a feeling of total loss of control over your own body. Depressed people have the hopelessness and helplessness feeling. Therefore, a student with persisting irregular sleep patterns is likely to be depressed. The longer this behavior exists, the more depressed the student becomes (Volker, 2004)

Moreover, researchers have also identified a relationship between sleep deprivation and the negative impact on the immune system through a chain of reactions. The irregular sleep patterns due to sleep deprivation can increase the stress level in students. Students are likely to respond to stress by activating some weird behavioral changes such as self-medication. The body would otherwise respond to stress by releasing cortisol, which will thereafter depress the immune system. This response makes a stressed student susceptible to upper respiratory infections, headaches as well as sleep disturbances seen in college students (Brown, 2006)

Partial sleep deprivation may become chronic, through producing serious consequences such as cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disorders (Foster, 2005).

Research has also revealed the hazardous light effects from computer gadgets used for online class. Previous studies have shown that dim light, such as 180 Lux light exposure, is already sufficient to cause a phase shift in the timing of the human circadian clock (Boivin, 1996). Intensities and durations of light are sufficient to alter circadian phase, and /or amplitude of circadian rhythms (Czeisler, 1990). Likewise, Harada (2004) observed that nocturnal light exposer delays the melatonin secretion rhythm and temperature, delaying the propensity to sleep.

Sleep loss is, in fact one of the most striking problems of modern society (Bonnet, 2000). Often, many tend to sacrifice sleep to cope with our many daily interests hoping that this will not result to dangerous effects. Unfortunately, this is not true and sleep deprivation has various consequences, such as sleepiness and impairments in neurocognitive and psychomotor performance, (Harrison, 2000). These decrement in neurobehavioral function after sleep restriction or deprivation are well known and common to all people(Durmer, 2005) even though some individuals differences in vulnerability to sleep loss have been shown.(van Dongen, 2004). The last few years have seen an increasing literature on the relationship between sleep, memory and learning capacity (Peigneux, 2001). Recent findings have shown that sleep plays an important role in learning processes and memory consolidation (smith, 2002 & Hobson, 2002), although no direct relationships were found between different kinds of memory, such as procedural or declarative memory and different sleep stages, such as REM or NREM sleep (Rauchs, 2005). This studies clearly show that sleep deprivation can impair learning and memory for both motor procedural (Smith, 2001) and declarative memory system (Gais, 2004))

Statement of the problem

The aim of this research was to examine, the effects of nighttime online classes for overseas students and how that affects their health. In this research, we will therefore concentrate on a particular question of interest on how irregular sleep patterns affect student’s health.

This research described the non-traditional college student and the problem of sleep deprivation within this population. Some of the detailed information on the adverse effects of inadequate sleep was provided.

Research questions

This research attempted to answer some of the relevant questions concerning the relationship between late night sleep to health complications. The question was,

To what extent do late night online classes affect individual health due to the improper sleep patterns?

Objectives of the research

It therefore concentrated on the following objective

To find out if late night online late night classes affect the sleep patterns and if it does, will the irregular sleep patterns of the students have any impact on their daily normal function of activities or health.

Generating a research study

Type of study

This research was a descriptive study by using a convenient sample of twelve oversees students. The status of the identified variables was described and the systematic information on their particular traits was proven.

Description of the study population

To differentiate the possibilities of available distinguishing traits, the research did a description of the student participants. The research did a description of some of the sleep related variables that were perceived to be a source of error in data collection, thus giving inaccurate results. It did consider the areas and places where the participants had been sleeping in the past one month to analyze if there was a possibility of that influencing the results. Furthermore, it did consider additional information such as the specific time of individual nighttime classes as well as those working during the day and their length of workday. The research excluded any participant using any chronic medication such as calcium antagonists or anti-inflammatory drugs or any sleep inducing drugs that could affect their sleeping patterns as this is likely to give invalid information that would be a source of error in the results


The research will give conclusive remarks from the sample of ten oversea student enrolled in online classes. This research selected students from oversea nations participating in any nighttime online classes. The selection process was done randomly, with no form of biasness over sex or gender. This research selected a sample of oversea students attending online classes within a similar time to help minimize the differences that would occur during analysis of the exact sleep time and period.

Ethical issues

The information consent tool was used to address all ethical issues raised by the participants. None of the participant was forced into participating, completing or filling the form. This research tried as much as possible to uphold all ethical standards as approved by the ethical committee of the school of public health.

Data collection

As a tool for data collection, this research used a twelve-item general health questionnaire. The questionnaire focused on overview questions that were highly likely give a general overview on the health of the participants over the past few weeks. The data collection tools (the general health questionnaire) was structured in a very comprehensible manner and the type of questions presented in a closed-ended format.

Some of the concerning questions were; have you recently lost much sleep over worry? Have you recently been enjoying your normal day-to-day activities? Values ranging from zero to three (0-3) were indicated in the open-ended questions.

Data analysis

The research performed a descriptive data analysis after the participants filled all the questionnaires. The research did not import or export any data unethically. The general health questionnaires was analyzed using a Likert scale as a validated measuring tool focusing on how the individual’s health has been over the past few weeks. The Likert scale analyzed the 4-point scale ranging from ‘more so than usual’ to ‘much less than usual’. In the descriptive analysis, the general health questionnaire scoring was presented using twelve items with a score range of 0 to 36. Each item was summed with other related items to create a score for a group of statements. The participants’ responses were grouped to relate the data to the statistics calculate.

Descriptive statistics

After coding and doing the necessary calculations from the raw data in the questionnaires, the data was presented using descriptive methodologies, by using the pie charts, interquartile ranges and means of central tendencies. All fully answered questionnaires were analyzed, by summing up related values in the Likert scale of individual items. This research used a pie chart to show the distribution of the scores. The research calculated the measures of central tendencies’ such as the mode, median and mean of the variations and responses given. In addition to that, we will include the measures of variability that will indicate the range, quartile deviation, variance and standard deviation of the participants’ responses. The measures of relative position will indicate the percentile ranks and standard scores.

The research provided percentile scores in the research to provide an index of the official position of one’s score relative to all others on a scale of 1 to 100. The percentile is a score relative to the comparison group and it will depend on the responses of others in that particular group. The use of standard scores will help show how far an individual’s raw score will deviate from the mean of the relevant sample.


The scores will have a range of 0-36 of about 11-12 will be considered as typical, scores between 15 to 20 will the evidence of distress and scores above 20 will suggest severe problems and psychological distress. The research will do a deep analysis of the results to establish the significance of the research questions and variables to the entire study. The research will indicate the difference of the results to other existing results, only if they exist.


The results of this research will either show a positive or negative effect, thus proving or disapproving previously done researches. The results of the research will aid in providing a ground campaign of whether the extensive late night online classes are beneficial and if not, they should somehow be restricted to certain time periods in the bid to protect students from suffering from sleep related health concerns.

Health related factors like nutrition and amounts of sleep were found to have a great influence on students (Trockel, 2000)


The conclusion of this research will base their remarks on the results of the descriptive analysis, with no any form of biasness or prejudice.


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