New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation


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 Student Leaders

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

Conclude events by 10PM on weeknights. Poor sleep habits, including irregular sleep schedules, are common reasons for inadequate sleep among college students.

Respect quiet hours in the residence halls and encourage your peers to do the same.

Encourage students who live in residence halls to complete a roommate contract/agreement. Setting important guidelines regarding noise, visitors, and other issues with roommates may alleviate issues that impact sleep for students, and make for an overall more positive living situation.

Host a “Week for Sleep”: Provide members with a “Sleep Tight” kit, complete with ear plugs and eye masks. Visit or the NYU Student Health Center website for suggested content to include.

Host an “Insomnia” workshop led by the Student Health Center to learn about the negative health effects resulting from lack of sleep.

Refer students who routinely appear sleep deprived to the Sleep Toolkit, offered through Counseling and Wellness Services. Toolkits are two-part workshops designed to help students develop and practice new skills to enhance personal, academic and social well-being.

Host events on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Although your club members might be unhappy, by encouraging them to wake up early on the weekend, you are helping them maintain a regular sleep and wake pattern which will help them develop healthy sleeping habits.22

Serve healthy foods at your events! High-fat and sugar foods can actually make it harder for you to fall asleep, while high-calcium, high-protein, and low-to-medium glycemic index carbohydrates (like whole-grain breads and pastas) may actually improve quality of sleep and how fast you can fall asleep.

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
  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. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011, January). Sleep hygiene tips. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NYU Footer