The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Online University Students' Performance

Maureen Cort-Blackson, Walden University

Abstract

Sleep deprivation affects the academic performance of online university students, and students who have family responsibilities and a full-time job have a higher prevalence of sleep deprivation. This phenomenological study examined the lived experiences of online university students regarding sleep patterns, sleep deprivation, and the impact on their academic performance. The theoretical foundation for this study was based on the opponent processing model that explains the 2 fundamental processes necessary for individuals to function at their optimum ability: the sleep-wake homeostatic process and the circadian rhythm processes. The research question explored the beliefs and perceptions of 10 online university students, while the sub questions focused on how distractions, social media, family, and work-related duties affected their sleep patterns. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit the participants who were current online university students, with a full time job, a family and family responsibilities. Data were analyzed through pattern coding and structural analysis. Four themes emerged from the analysis of the data: the effects of sleep deprivation, adjustment to daily lives, factors affecting sleep deprivation, and impressions of online education. Results demonstrated that sleep deprivation causes tiredness, sluggish thinking and cranky responses. Positive social change can be achieved if the 10 participants participate in building a community of online university students who will maintain an alumni base that can foster mentoring and empowering others to decrease sleep deprivation that helps in maintaining good academic standards.