Canada’s most trusted higher ed monitor and futurist, Ken Steele, draws attention to the rising levels of sleep deprivation reported by undergraduates (now about 71%, almost triple the level in 1978). Some causes may include the end of curfews, increasing numbers of commuter students and those juggling paid employment, rising use of social media and screens at bedtime, and extended class schedules. Young adults need more sleep and their circadian rhythms run later in the morning. Oxford University’s Centre for Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience is conducting a major study of 32,000 grade school students to see whether later start times result in improved standardized test scores. The majority of students on Canadian college and university campuses report that they wake feeling rested fewer than 3 days per week. Sleep deprivation is linked to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and poorer learning outcomes. In response to this problem, colleges and universities are taking proactive measures: the student union at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor established napping stations in the campus library, St Leo University has installed $10,000 “energy pods” like those you see in many airports. Major employers like Google, P&G and the Huffington Post are encouraging employees to nap on the job, and the Harvard Medical School has found that sleep-deprived employees cost American employers more than $32 billion a year in lost productivity. Educators are among the best-rested professions — so it is altogether too easy to assume that your students are more rested than they actually are.
reviews the evidence that students at college and university are increasingly sleep deprived, impacting their mental health, physical health, and ability to learn. Institutions are installing sleep pods, napping stations, and more — but are also to blame, for the way they extend class start times into the morning and late at night. The “all-nighter” culture needs to end.
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