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Sleeping In College: 29 College Sleep Statistics

These 29 college student sleep statistics show why more than 50% of university students suffer from sleep deprivation and daytime sleepiness.

Historically, adults have not been super great at making sure we are getting adequate rest. We work too much and binge-watch too often in what little downtime we have. That’s why entire industries have been built around the premise of helping people get some much-needed rest.

But while us grownups were so busy worrying about our own sleepless nights, college students are facing a sleep deprivation epidemic that threatens their well-being.

Statistics and studies led us to believe students were doing just fine. Gone are the days of drunken pledges bombing exams. These days college students are forgoing wild parties and relying on technology to study up and improve their test scores.

But despite these promising changes, the kids are not alright. They are exhausted.

How Much Sleep Are Students Getting?

In a self-reported University of Arizona study, 23% of athletes reported experiencing fatigue at excessive levels.

[1] The University of Arizona

A study conducted at Brown University concluded female students suffered from insomnia more often than male students. 30% of female respondents reported experiencing insomnia within the past 3 months, compared to 18% of the male respondents.

[2] The Slate

Most college students – over half to be exact – get less than 7 hours of sleep a night.

[3] University Health Center

What Are the Effects of Sleep Deprivation on College Students?

Student-athletes frequently experience hallucinations and sleep paralysis because their busy schedules often affect their quality of sleep.

[4] American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Studies show sleep loss can hurt academic performance just as much as binge-drinking or drug use.

[5] Reuters
[6] Sleep Health Journal

Proteins called cytokines are produced less often when people are sleep deprived. Antibodies and cells that fight off infection are also produced in lower numbers. This means tired people are more likely to get sick!

[7] Mayo Clinic

Sleep debt can cause memory problems, mood regulation issues, and poor decision-making. Contrary to popular belief, the human body does not adjust to sleep debt.

[8] The Daily Pennsylvanian

Freshmen are more likely to suffer bad grades due to poor sleep. Not only that, but each additional night of bad sleep further increases the likelihood that a student will drop a class.

[5] Reuters
[6] Sleep Health Journal

Your major plays a factor in how much sleep you get.

Medical majors get the least quality sleep.

[9] American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Don’t pull an all-nighter before your big exam! You’re more likely to lower your GPA that way, not – improve it.

[9] American Academy of Sleep Medicine

1 in 4 University of Georgia students say sleep deprivation hurts their academic performance, causing lower grades, missing classwork, or skipped classes.

[10] University Health Center

Sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of negative side effects like weight gain, a higher body mass index, and more body fat. Some people also lose the ability to tolerate larger amounts of exercise and experience cravings for unhealthy foods.

[11] The University of Rhode Island

Why Is This Happening?

Students complaining about boring professors have a point! Lectures cause failing grades to increase by 55% as compared to a more engaging learning environment. Kids just fall asleep in class!

[12] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
[13] The Washington Post

Cellphones cause FOMO or the Fear Of Missing Out. Many students sleep with their phones under their pillows to avoid missing important calls or texts. This causes a disruption in their sleep cycles: They wake up every time the phone goes off and respond while half awake and barely coherent.

[11] The University of Rhode Island

Some experts think our culture’s tendency to brag about being tired causes people to deprioritize sleep.

[8] The Daily Pennsylvanian

Classes start too early! The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend classes begin no earlier than 8:30 AM.

[14] Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Irregular sleep patterns – i.e. waking up and going to bed at random times – can have the same detrimental effects as not getting enough sleep.

[15] Nature

Stress is a key factor in poor sleep quality and some researchers think it affects students more than caffeine or alcohol consumption.

[16] Science Direct

Adolescents and young adults have delayed circadian rhythm preferences, making them literal night owls!

[17] National Center for Biotechnology Information

Traditional Coping Mechanisms Don’t Help

30-50% of college students take naps but then end up staying awake longer at night, ultimately sleeping less overall.

[10] University Health Center

People who take Adderall to aid cram sessions often experience insomnia and restlessness, creating an endless cycle of sleeplessness.

[17] University of California, Davis

Polyphasic sleep does not seem to help students feel more rested or improve grades.

[15] Nature

Sleeping in on the weekends doesn’t always help. It can actually mess up the circadian rhythm even more because the body can only adjust to 2 extra hours of sleep.

[8] The Daily Pennsylvaninan


What Are Colleges Doing to Combat Sleep Deprivation Among Students?

Penn Med’s sleep specialists educate kids on healthy sleep habits just in time for exam season.

Recommendations include napping less or earlier in the day, cutting back on caffeine, and exercising to stay alert.

[8] The Daily Pennsylvanian

The University of Arizona finds sleep education and tracking increases sleep quality and athletic performance.

[8] The University of Arizona

Harvard students can take a sleep class to learn about sleep hygiene and how to establish healthy habits.

[19] The Boston Globe

Baylor University offered students extra credit points for succeeding in “The 8-hour Challenge”. More sleep equals better grades – a win-win.

[20] Baylor

Cuesta College is advocating a bill that would allow homeless students to safely sleep in their cars in the school parking lot.

[21] The Tribune

For students in dorms with no air conditioning, Goucher College allowed students to sleep on cots in the campus library.

[22] Baltimore Sun

Carolyn Burke

Carolyn Burke

Content Writer

About Author

Carolyn has worked as a writer, copyeditor, and social media manager since 2013. Her work can be found at various websites, including Bunny Ears, Crunchyroll, and Cracked. She tries to sleep as often as she can.

Combination Sleeper


[1] “Intervention Could Help Student-Athletes Sleep”. University of Arizona. Last modified Jan 19th, 2017. 

[2] “Sleep all day, work all night: Numerous college students experience sleep deprivation”. The Slate. Last

modified February 15, 2016. 

[3] “Why You Should Make a Good Night’s Sleep a Priority”. Harvard Summer School. Last modified May 28, 2021. 

[4] “College students: getting enough sleep is vital to academic success”. Last modified November 6, 2017. 

[5] “Sleep may impact college grades more than drinking or drugs”. Reuters. Last modified September 11, 2018. 

[6] “Calculating the contribution of sleep problems to undergraduates’ academic success”. Sleep Health Journal. Last modified August 3, 2018. 

[7] “Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?”. Mayo Clinic. November 28, 2018. 

[8] “As exam season hits, Penn Medicine sleep specialists advise students on napping techniques”. The Daily Pennsylvanian. Last modified February 18, 2019.

[9] “Sleep paralysis and hallucinations are prevalent in student athletes”. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Last modified June 4, 2018. 

[10] “Sleep and Academic Performance”. University of Georgia. 

[11] “Bedtime story: Study finds sleep-deprived students”. The University of Rhode Island. 

[12] “Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Last modified May 12, 2014. 

[13] “It puts kids to sleep — but teachers keep lecturing anyway. Here’s what to do about it”. The Washington Post. Last modified July 11, 2017. 

[14] “Identifying the Best Times for Cognitive Functioning Using New Methods: Matching University Times to Undergraduate Chronotypes”. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Last modified April 19, 2017. 

[15] “Irregular sleep wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing”. Nature. Last modified June 12, 2017.

[16] “Sleep Patterns and Predictors of Disturbed Sleep in a Large Population of College Students”. Journal of Adolescent Health. Last modified February 2010. 

[17] “Causes and consequences of sleepiness among college students”. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Last modified June 23, 2014.

[18] “Adderall Abuse Among College Students”. American Addiction Centers. Last modified July 5, 2022. 

[19] “Many college students don’t sleep well. This Harvard course hopes to change that”. The Boston Globe. Last modified September 8, 2018. 

[20] “Better Sleep — Not ‘All-Nighters’ — Helps Students on Final Exams”. Baylor University. Last modified December 3, 2018. 

[21] “New bill would let  homeless Cuesta College students sleep in their cars on campus”. The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Last modified February 5, 2019. 

[22] “It’s so hot in some dorm rooms at this Maryland college, students can sleep on cots in the library”. The Baltimore Sun. Last modified August 30, 2018.