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Sleep

Sleep is a critical factor in NYU students’ academic success and general wellbeing. NYU students typically have strenuous schedules replete with class, homework, part-time jobs, extracurricular clubs and activities, in addition to all of the exciting events the surrounding city has to offer. However with these opportunities and responsibilities, students often do not get adequate sleep. Short-term effects of sleep deprivation include decreased cognitive function, memory, performance and alertness. In the long term, sleep deprivation can be associated with obesity, mental and physical health impairments, and attention deficit disorder.1


Key Facts

  • “Sleep difficulties” ranks third on the list of factors which impact students’ academics.2
  • Fatigue costs the workplace $136 billion per year in lost productivity.3
  • An estimated 50-70 million U.S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder.4
  • 7 million primary care office visits are due to symptoms of significant fatigue each year in the U.S.5
  • Almost 20 % of all serious car crash injuries in the general population are associated with driver sleepiness.4
  • Sleep is involved in the acquisition, maintenance and retrieval of memories, as well as memory consolidation. Consequently, sleep deprivation has been shown to impact both working memory and long-term memory processes.6,7
  • Sleep deprivation and debt can adversely affect brain and cognitive function, including one’s decision-making process and attention.8
  • Compared to non-sleep deprived individuals, individuals with chronic sleep loss are less productive, have health care needs greater than the norm, and have an increased likelihood of injury.9

Suggestions for Parents and Families

This page is intended to be a resource containing suggestions for what you can do to help your student get adequate sleep and decrease consequences from sleep difficulties.

Provide your student with the supplies to facilitate healthy sleep habits. Establishing a good sleep environment is critical for facilitating adequate sleep. Consider packing a sleep mask, ear plugs, a white noise machine, and an alarm clock, depending on your student’s individual needs and sleep preferences. Research has demonstrated that using such sleep tools can decrease sleep interruption and increase the amount of REM sleep.22,23,24

Be respectful and understanding of your student’s schedule and time phone calls accordingly. Between varied class times, study groups, and extracurricular activities, students often have irregular sleep patterns. Consider setting pre-established times to check-in with your student or ask for good times to call. Consider using e-mail for day-to-day communications.

Encourage your student to contact residence hall staff about completing a roommate contract/agreement. Setting guidelines regarding noise, visitors, and other shared living issues in the beginning of the semester may alleviate some roommate conflicts that impact your student's sleep.

Remind your student to nap if he or she is not getting enough sleep at night. While naps do not make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes has been shown to improve mood, alertness and performance,25,26 thereby helping students reduce the harmful effects of inadequate sleep.

Encourage your student to engage in self-care. Healthy eating, regular exercise, and practicing relaxation techniques can help students get a better night’s sleep.

Remind your student how important it is to maintain good sleep habits. Poor sleep habits among college students can affect academic performance and overall mental and physical health. Understanding how important good and consistent sleeping is may help your student take action in improving his or her sleep habits.


sleep indicators


a) Negative impact on academic performance due to sleep difficulties

  • Data Source: ACHA #45D4
  • Survey Question: Within the last 12 months, have any of the following affected your academic performance (sleep difficulties)?
  • Definition: proportion received lower grade exam; received lower grade course; received incomplete/dropped; or significant disruption thesis

b) Received information on sleep

  • Data Source: ACHA #3B5 and #2B5
  • Survey Questions: Have you received information on the following topics from your college or university: sleep? & Are you interested in receiving information on the following topics from your college or university: sleep?
  • Definition: students interested in receiving sleep information; proportion who reported having actually received sleep information

c) Sleep impacting daytime functioning

  • Data Source: ACHA #43
  • Survey Question: In the past 7 days, how much of a problem have you had with sleepiness during your daytime activities?
  • Definition: proportion responding “a big problem” or “a very big problem”

  1. Eliasson, A.H., Lettieri ,C.J. (2010). Early to bed, early to rise! Sleep habits and academic performance in college students . Sleep and Breathing, 14, (1), 71-75.
  2. American College Health Association. (2009). American College Health Association - National College Health Assessment II: New York University Executive Summary Spring 2009. H, MD: Author.
  3. Ricci, J.A., Chee, E., Lorandeau, & A.L., Berger, J. (2007). Fatigue in the U.S. workforce: Prevalence and implications for lost productive work time. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 49(1), 1-10.
  4. Institute of Medicine. (2006). Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation: An unmet public health problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
  5. Favrat, B., & Cornuz, J. (2011, April 02). Evaluation of fatigue. Retrieved October 24, 20111, from
    https://online.epocrates.com/u/2911571/Evaluation+of+fatigue/Differential/Overview
  6. Rauchs, G., Desgranges B., Foret, J., Eustache F. (2005). The relationships between memory systems and sleep stages. Journal of Sleep Research, 14, 123-140.
  7. Saxvig, I.W., Lundervold, A.J., Gronli, J., Ursin, R., Bjorvatn, B., & Portas, C.M. (2007). The effects of a REM sleep deprivation procedure on different aspects of memory function in humans. Psychophysiology, 45(2), 309-317.
  8. Ratcliff, R., & Van Dongen, H.P. (2009). Sleep deprivation affects multiple distinct cognitive processes. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 16(4), 742-51.
  9. Colten, H.R., & Altevog, B.M. (2006). Sleep Disorders and sleep deprivation: An unmet public health problem. Institute of Medicine (U.S.). Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research. Washington DC: National Academies Press.
  10. 10. Brown, F.C., Buboltz, & W.C., Soper, B. (2006). Development and Evaluation of the Sleep Treatment and Education Program for Students (STEPS). Journal of American College Health, 54(4), 231-237.
  11. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011, January). Sleep hygiene tips. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  12. Ritterban, LM, Thorndike, F.P., Gonder-Frederick, L.A., Magee, J.C., Bailey, E.T., Saylor, & D.K., Morin, C.M. (2009). Efficacy of an Internetbased behavioral intervention for adults with insomnia. Archive of General Psychiatry, 66(7), 692-698.
  13. Gordon, S.J., Grimmer-Somers, K.A., Trott, P.H. (2010). Pillow use: the behavior of cervical stiffness, headache and scapular/arm pain. Journal of Pain Research, 3, 137–145.
  14. Forquer, L.M., & Johnson, C.M. (2007). Continuous white noise to reduce sleep latency and night wakings in college students. Sleep and Hypnosis, 9(2), 60-66.
  15. Hu, R., Jiang, X., Zeng, Y., Chen, X., & Zhang Y. (2010). Effects of earplugs and eye masks on nocturnal sleep, melatonin and cortisol in a simulated intensive care unit environment. Critical Care, 14(2).
  16. Marlatt, G.A. (1998). Harm reduction: Pragmatic strategies for managing high-risk behaviors. New York, The Guilford Press.
  17. Tsui, Y.Y., Wing, Y.K. A Study on the Sleep Patterns and Problems of University Business Students in Hong Kong. FRCPsych, MR CP, FHKAM (Psych).
  18. Taub, J.M. (1979). Effects of habitual variations in napping on psychomotor performance, memory and subjective states. International Journal of Neuroscience, 9(2), 97-112.
  19. Zhao, D., Zhang, Q., Fu, M., Tang, Y., Zhao, Y. (2010). Effects of physical positions on sleep architectures and post-nap functions among habitual nappers. Biological Psychology, 83(3), 207-213.
  20. Lund, H.G., Reider, B.D., Whiting, A.B., Prichard, J.R. (2010). Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46,124–132.
  21. Moo-Estrella, J., Pe´rez-Benı´tez, H., Solı´s-Rodrıguez, F., Arankowsky-Sandoval, G. (2005). Evaluation of depressive symptoms and sleep alterations in college students. Archives of Medical Research, 36, 393–398.
  22. Gordon, S.J., Grimmer-Somers, K.A., Trott, P.H. (2010) Pillow use: the behavior of cervical stiffness, headache and scapular/arm pain. Journal of Pain Research; vol. 3, pg. 137–145
  23. Macan, T. H., Shahani, C., Dipboye, R. L., & Phillips, A. P. (1990). College students' time management: Correlations with academic performance and stress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(4), 760-768. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.82.4.760
  24. Hu, R., Jiang, X., Zeng, Y., Chen, X., Zhang Y. (2010) Effects of earplugs and eye masks on nocturnal sleep, melatonin and cortisol in a simulated intensive care unit environment. Critical Care; vol. 14, no. 2
  25. Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2006.
  26. Favrat, B., & Cornuz, J. (2011, April 02). Evaluation of fatigue. Retrieved October 24, 2011, from https://online.epocrates.com/u/2911571/Evaluation+of+fatigue/Differential/Overview


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