To Sleep or Not To Sleep… Should That Be A Question is a quantitative research study which seeks to discover the extent to which sleep deprivation is romanticized as a factor of success in post-secondary populations. There were three primary research questions posed during the initial stages of this study:

The first pertains to the perceptions of students about their individual sleeping patterns and asks if a correlational relationship exist between the sleeping patterns of post-secondary students and the specific time period within the semester (i.e., pre-, during, and post-examination periods and assignment deadlines).

The second pertains to the perceived emotional and behavioural responses of students in regard to how they view negative sleeping patterns in academic situations and asks how students have or would feel if they were put in a situation that forces them to compare their own sleeping patterns with those of their peers.

The third question asks whether or not a general consensus that negative sleeping patterns before schoolwork deliverables, such as exams and assignment deadlines, is romanticized as a factor of academic success exists in post-secondary populations.

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This study relied on two data-collection methods. The first took the form of a survey and the second took the form of a literature review:

A survey was conducted as the primary data collection method. The survey was circulated amongst fourth-year students at Ryerson. The total number of survey respondents was 25 students studying in various programs; the majority of which were female fourth-year Professional Communications students. The survey consisted of 13 questions that were selected to gauge how each participant perceived their own sleeping habits to be as well as whether they believed there to be any association between sleep and academic success.

Below are three examples of the survey questions posed to participants.

A literature review was also conducted as a secondary means of data collection. The review consisted of the analysis of related discourse and other relevant research studies exploring the topic of the romanticization of sleep deprivation as a factor of academic success in post-secondary populations.

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The results of the survey confirmed, to some extent, two of the initially posed research questions, however, the third question was only mentioned on two occasions and therefore it cannot be said whether or not the question was answered positively or negatively.

In regard to the first question, a majority of the students surveyed confirmed that their sleeping patterns vary depending on the specific time period within the semester. It was particularly noted that their sleeping patterns were most effected before major examinations and assignment deadlines. In regard to the second question, over 90% of survey respondents confirmed that sleep deprivation is romanticized as a factor of success by a majority of students studying at post-secondary institutions

In regard to question three, the survey questions which asked respondents about the perceived emotional and behavioural responses they associate with sleep as a factor of academic success showed mixed responses. Over 50% of students stated that they had felt embarrassed and guilty at some point in time about getting more sleep than their friends before a schoolwork deliverable and that they would consider lying about the amount of sleep they got before a major assignment or exam. However, more than 50% of respondents said that they would and have never measured the success of their work based on how many hours of sleep before a deadline.

Although the sample population surveyed is considerably smaller than that of an actual post-secondary institution, it leaves much to be said about how students prioritize their academic course loads and their health. The existence of a population, however small, of students who associate their sleeping patterns with their academic success creates a precedence for further studies to be conducted on an institutional level to discover what some of the causes of this type of association might be.

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The results of the literature review were as initially predicted. Sleep deprivation in post-secondary populations has been widely studied across the globe but strictly in health-related contexts. There has been significant focus put on the bio- and socio-logical factors associated with sleep deprivation for young adults in university. There is also a significant portion of this research available that indicates a direct correlation between academic performance, sleep patterns and the specific period of a given semester (i.e., before or after examination periods).

Due to the heavily health-related themes of existing research, it can be said that there is a severe lack of research available which pertains to the perceived emotional and behavioural responses of these students. In most circumstances the available studies associate the existence of negative sleeping patterns with procrastination or an overwhelming course workload rather than by choice or comfort in doing so, as examined in this study.

In the future, this study will ideally act as the foundation for which future studies can be conducted to further analyze the extent to which students choose to pursue negative sleeping patterns by in exchange for the comfort and confidence in controlling their personal academic success.

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