Students living with sleep deprivation, poll suggests

By Valerie Dittrich and Larry Heng (JRN 106)

Ryerson students say they’re struggling with sleep deprivation, a recent poll at the university suggests, with architecture and engineering students occasionally describing hallucinations.

The results found that 75 per cent of students do not get an adequate amount of sleep every night and over half of respondents get six hours or less per night. The poll results indicated that only 15 per cent of students get eight hours or more.

The survey conducted at Ryerson University involving 897 undergraduate students was a randomized poll, conducted person-to-person from March 3 to 7, 2017. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Irda Hajdari is losing sleep from the workload of her major, but still wants to double major in an engineering program. (Photo by Larry Heng/Ryerson School of Journalism)

A study by the U.S. National Sleep Foundation found that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to function properly.

Short-term lack of sleep can affect mood, judgment and the ability to learn and retain information.

 

Engineering and architecture students losing most sleep

While all students are affected, students in architecture and engineering appear to struggle the most, according to the poll.

When students across campus were asked to respond to the question, “How much do you agree with this statement, with 1 being the least and 5 being the most agreement: I get enough sleep most nights,” the faculty reported the least agreement.

 

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Lack of sleep leading to hallucinations

Irda Hajdari, a third-year architectural science student, says the studio course in architecture design makes the difference.

“It takes up 90 per cent of our lives,” says Hajdari, who is minoring in civil engineering and plans to do a double major in both undergraduate programs.

“There will be nights where I get one or two hours of sleep. Three hours is a good night’s rest sometimes.”

Lack of sleep can cause physical and psychological distress to students.

“During first semester midterm season, I didn’t sleep for four days straight and had to go to the hospital because I was passing out and started hallucinating,” says Hajdari. “I had a friend who experienced the same thing.”

First-year biomedical science student Jazmine Dionicio gets around four to five hours of sleep each night, well below the healthy amount an adult requires. She said the reason she stays up so late is due to her heavy workload, spending hours catching up on labs and assignments.

“I need way more sleep,” says Dionicio. “When I come to lecture I’m always tired, and instead of actually listening, I usually fall asleep.”

On top of her two-hour commute, Dionicio says she is never fully engaged in the work she does.

“Everyone needs sleep, it’s a way for us to restart our bodies so it’s really essential for us humans to be able to sleep,” she says. “Not being able to sleep, it affects us negatively.”

 

How Ryerson could help

Approximately 36 per cent of students surveyed say their commute is more than 40 minutes, which can change the sleeping schedules of students.

Sameet Zainab, a first-year nutrition student who commutes from Brampton, Ont., says that her commute affects her when she does her school work, which impacts her sleep schedule.

“I’ll finish classes at 6 p.m. and won’t get home until 8 p.m. and I will already be tired,” says Zainab. “Then if I’m trying to get some work done, I’ll have to stay up for a long time before I even get to sleep.”

Hajdari, the architectural science student, is from Richmond Hill, Ont. and says her commute is regularly over two hours, which, along with early morning classes, has affected her sleep.

“If I have a 9 a.m. class and I’m not up by 6:30 a.m. [the] latest, I won’t make it to class,” Hajdari says.

She says that Ryerson should try to not have heavy-content classes early in the morning.

“No student should have to wake up at 5 a.m. to get to their class,” Hajdari says. “It’s just ridiculous.”

Sleep has also become an issue addressed in the elections for Ryerson’s Senate. The Evolve Party mentioned their support for eliminating 8 a.m. exam times in their Senate platform, which could be one step forward for Hajdari’s suggestion.

 

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