Back to school: College students’ sleep health hinges on their time management skills

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. It’s not just all the late-night parties that cause college kids to lose sleep. A new study conducted by University of Alabama researchers found that poor time management, especially in terms of organization, can significantly impact sleep quality as well. The research focused on goal-setting, time management mechanics, and preference for organization.

“College students often grapple with sleep issues tied to their lifestyle,” notes Dr. Adam Knowlden of UA’s College of Human Environmental Sciences in a university release. “Juggling academic and social responsibilities can be tough. Stress and anxiety further affect sleep quality among students, sometimes leading to insomnia.”

The study identified three key factors related to time management that significantly influence college students’ overall sleep quality. According to Knowlden, time management accounts for around 20 percent of the variation in sleep quality outcomes measured.

“Among these factors, valuing organization emerged as the most crucial determinant of sleep quality,” Knowlden explains. “This indicates that individuals who prioritize and maintain an organized environment generally experience better sleep quality.”

Teen student stressed over school work
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As a researcher who has explored sleep health in relation to body composition and stress, Knowlden emphasizes that mastering time management strategies should be a priority before the academic year kicks off.

“Many college students follow the tradition of staying up late, sometimes for an entire 24 hours, to cram for exams,” Knowlden points out. “This pattern underscores the need for improved time management skills. Until now, no study had explicitly examined the impact of time management on students’ sleep, and we deemed it vital to explore given that it’s an aspect students can work on.”

Knowlden recommends allotting eight to nine hours of sleep each night and considering it a non-negotiable daily appointment.

“Sleep is a crucial phase for learning,” the study author explains. “Think of your mind as a computer. While asleep, the brain discards unnecessary information and retains valuable data. This is why students who prioritize sleep tend to perform better academically.”

The study is published in the American Journal of Health Education.

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