College students with medical-related majors are more likely to have poorer quality of sleep in comparison to those with a humanities major, according to a research abstract that will be presented Wednesday at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
The study, conducted by Aryn Karpinski of West Virginia University, focused on 129 students, with an average age of 19.9, who were categorized based on major: "STEM" (statistics, technology, engineering, math, and medical-related majors) or humanities (i.e., psychology, education). STEM majors comprised 55 percent of the participants and 45 percent were humanities majors. All subjects were administered the self-report Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
"Sleepiness and poor sleep quality are prevalent among university students, affecting their academic performance and daytime functioning. This study, which compared sleepiness and sleep quality among undergraduate students whose majors were either medically or humanities-oriented, found that, while there were no differences between STEM and humanities majors' self-reported sleepiness, there were significant differences in their self-reported sleep quality with STEM majors reporting worse global PSQI scores," said Karpinski.
In addition, noted Karpinski, global PSQI scores for the sample indicate poorer quality of sleep compared to the population norms. Sleep deprivation was longer and frequency of sleep medication use was higher in STEM compared to humanities, added Karpinski.
The amount of sleep a person gets affects his or her physical health, emotional well-being, mental abilities, productivity and performance. Recent studies associate lack of sleep with serious health problems such as an increased risk of depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.