Are students getting enough sleep?

With the generally heavy workloads that students tend to have throughout their studies, an important question is: Do students get enough sleep?

According to a poll run by MatieMedia online, 70 percent of students described their workload as “heavy”.  76 percent agreed that their workload determined the amount of sleep that they had at night.

40 percent of students woke up at 7am or earlier while 60 percent of students polled said they get seven hours of sleep or less per night. 69 percent of students polled described their sleeping patterns as consistent.

Dr Jason Bantjes, psychology lecturer at Stellenbosch University, said: “We know that sleep is one of the cornerstones of good physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can have a profound effect on mood, concentration and memory.  Not getting enough sleep can certainly be among the factors that contribute to poor academic performance.”

Tired student sleeps during a lecture. PHOTO: Dylan Jack


“Poor sleep hygiene (including erratic sleep patterns) disrupts sleep and prevents us from enjoying the full benefits of sleep. Sleep disturbances are also associated with a range of mental health problems and can be a symptom of mental illness.”

Matthew Williams, a fifth year BA Accounting Honours student, said: “I don’t think students get enough sleep. My studies alone can keep me busy all day. I believe what keeps me up the most is the amount of activities I have access to as well as the people I can visit.”

Williams does however believe that sleep patterns are determined by workload, as he said: “My sleep patterns are determined by my workload and deadlines first and foremost, but are also based on balancing my work around my social life on a daily basis.”

Byron Lucas, a third year BA Humanities student, said: “The pressure to perform academically and socially is very high and so I go to bed later in order to make time for both.”

Lucas does not believe the workload of students contribute to their sleeping patterns, instead saying “my sleep patterns are determined by my social life. Work does play a large part but it is both that contribute towards sleeping patterns.” – Dylan Jack