Are you curious if those all-night cram study hours are working? I bet you’re wondering if they are actually helping or hurting your midterm grade? I’m sure all of us have spent an all-nighter studying for that Chemistry or Economics exam that you just have to do well on because it’s 50 percent of your grade. Not only are you studying so hard for that A+, but your mental well-being. We all feel pressured to do well in college for many reasons.
For that high-paying job were promised if we graduate from a top-notch school or what about the assumption that you will have a better future. And for those of you whose parents are paying thousands of dollars for tuition, wouldn’t want to let mom or dad down. The answer is here. June J. Pilcher conducted a study of whether sleep deprivation affects your ability to acing that test if you just would have gone to bed earlier.
June J. Pilcher published an article “How to Sleep Deprivation Affects Psychological Variables Related to College Students Cognitive Performance,” in the Journal of American College Health in November of 1997.
Voluntary sleep deprivation is a common occurrence for many college students, who often partially deprive themselves of sleep during the week and compensate by increasing their sleep time over the weekend. This pattern of sleep deprivation and rebound becomes more pronounced around examination periods, sometimes resulting in 24 to 48 hours of sleep deprivation. By depriving themselves of sleep, college students are not only increasing their feelings of sleepiness during the day, thus decreasing their ability to pay attention in class, but are also negatively affecting their ability to perform on exams.
The effect of sleep deprivation on psychological variable associated with performance, such as self-reported estimates of attention, effort, and performance, have not been thoroughly investigated. Few studies have examined perceived effort and performance, and the results from those studies have often been contradictory. For example, some researchers have suggested that sleep deprivation may affect the willingness of the individual to put forth the effort to perform well on a task more than the actual ability of the individual to perform.
By contrast, other researchers have concluded that people may realize a decrease in performance levels following sleep deprivation and attempt to overcome this by increasing their effort.
However other studies have shown that a perceived increase in effort does not appear to overcome the harmful effects of sleep deprivation. In one study, the participants were given a reward for better performance, which resulted in an increase in the perceived effort but no change in actual performance.
In addition, studies have shown that increasing amounts of sleep loss do not have a harmful effect on participants’ self-reported motivational levels. As these results show the relationship between sleep deprivation and psychological variables associated with performance is not clearly understood.
This current experiment was done to find out what college students are really doing to themselves when they pull an all-night full of studying. The experiment addresses three basic specific issues. First, does it affect their levels of concentration, effort, and estimated performance? Secondly does sleep deprivation significantly alters mood states that may be related to performance.
For example was their increased fatigue, confusion, and tension, and decreased vigor. The final purpose of their study was to determine whether sleep deprivation alters peoples’ ability to make an accurate assessment of their concentration, effort, and estimated performance.
This is a basic research experiment because it is the study of a fundamental issue and is extending our understanding of why sleep-deprived college students are not producing as good as results as non-sleep-deprived students. Furthermore, this experiment is just to show what we as college students shouldn’t do. It provides us with information on whether to stay up all night studying or to get a good night’s rest. Which will help us get the grade we want and deserve.
June J. Pilcher is an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Bradley University. He got his bachelor’s degree in 1984 at The University of Southern Mississippi in psychology and computer science. He then went to Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, Germany in 1984-1985. After his time in Germany, he came back to the United States and got his Masters’s in biopsychology at The University of Chicago.
Forty-four students participated in the study. Twenty-six of them women and eighteen of them were men. The mean age was 20.5 years. Each student was randomly assigned to a sleep deprived or non-sleep deprived group. The group of non-sleep deprived students was told to go home and sleep for approximately 8 hours in normal sleeping conditions.
However, the sleep-deprived group remained awake under the supervision of two research assistants in the sleep laboratory. The participants interacted with each other and with the research assistants, watched movies, played the video and board games, or worked on personal projects during the night, but were asked to limit caffeinated beverages and sugary snacks to two each. The next morning both groups were taken to the library, after breakfast, and tested.
All participants then took the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questioner, which asks questions about their mood. For example, do they feel friendly, tense, and or angry? After completing this they filled out the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WG). This survey measures their cognitive performance. And then finally they were given the Cognitive Interference Questionnaire (CG), which provides a list of types of thoughts.
The participants respond by stating how often they experienced those thoughts while completing the WG task. The testing period took less than one hour. The results of the experiment showed that sleep-deprived students reported higher subjective levels of concentration while completing the task than the nondeprived participants did. The sleep-deprived students also estimated that they expended significantly more effort to complete the task than did the nondeprived participants. Although sleep-deprived participants actually performed worse on the WG than the significantly higher levels of estimated performance than the nondeprived participants did.
I believe this experiment did work well and showed great results that we college students can benefit from. One is that the sleep-deprived student has to use more concentration than a nondeprived student to do cognitive tasks. So when your up all night studying for that midterm you have the next morning, remember that the longer you stay up the harder it is going to be to stay focused.
Also from the study, we are shown that sleep-deprived students have an extreme increase in fatigue and confusion. Now we all know that these are two characteristics that are just not allowed when taking that “got to pass” exam. So let’s just all go to bed earlier and stop wasting our time studying all night. Get some sleep!!
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