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How Sleep Deprivation Affects Psychological Variables Related to College Students Cognitive Performance

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How Sleep Deprivation Affects Psychological Variables Related to College Students Cognitive Performance

Jenny R. Downs

Fall07, PSY 1513 41

General Psychology (MSVCC) (2575)

Sleep deprivation is very common for college students. A pattern is usually

developed with sleep deprivation peaking during the week and even more during exam

periods. Performance levels are significantly lower during these periods even though the

students beleived that their performance was better. Many studies have been conducted to

try to evaluate the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance and on

psychological variables related to cognitive performance in college students. The study in

this reading included sixty-five volunteers. Of the sixty-five, only fourty-four participants

finished the study. In the study, the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal was given

to participants to measure cognitive performance. This test had a fourty minute time limit.

The Profile of Mood States scale was used simultaneously with the Watson-Glaser

Thinkin Appraisal to assess the mood of the volunteers. The entire study lasted from

10:00pm on a Friday night to 11:00am the next morning. Twenty-four hours of sleep

deprivation was all that was allowed for this experiment. No alcohol or non-prescription

drugs were allowed for this study. The result of the study concluded that the participants

that were sleep-deprived did much worse on the Watson-Glaser Thinking Appraisal than

did the participants who had sleep. The sleep deprived participants reported that they had

higher concentration, put in more effort and had better performance than the participants

that had no lack of sleep. The findings concluded that they did significantly worse than

the students that were not sleep-deprived. The only increases that the sleep-deprived

participants had were in fatigue and confusion. The study concluded that the non-

deprived participants did much better on complex cognitive tasks than the sleep deprived

participants. The sleep-deprived participants reportedly beleived that they did better than

the non-deprived group. The levels of off-task cognitions were not very different between

the two groups. Also, mood state, in the areas of fatigue and confusion, greatly affected

the sleep-deprived participants. The sleep-deprived participants were also shown to have

significantly more tension and less vigor than the non-deprived participants. The study

stated that college students that have been sleep-deprived are unknowingly causing

themselves to have worse performance on completing cognitive tasks than they would

have if they had sufficient sleep. College students constantly overrate themselves in the

areas of concentration, effort and performance when they are deprived of sleep. This

causes college students to believe that they are doing well on their tasks when they

actually are not. College students do not realize that by being sleep-deprived that it causes

fatigue and confusion as opposed to helping them do better on their cognitive tasks.

Sleep-deprived students in this study were not allowed to sleep for twenty-four hours.

At the end of the study, the students were given two questionaires to complete. One of the

questionaires that was used was the Watson-Glaser Thinking Appraisal. The Watson-

Glaser Thinking Appraisal was given to measure cognitive performance. The Watson-

Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal was limited to fourty minutes and was separated into

three sections: inference, recognition of assumptions and deduction. The means and

standard deviations of sleep and non-deprived participants on the Watson-Glaser

Thinking Appraisal are as follows: sleep-deprived participants-M 24.52, SD 21.29; non-

deprived-M 38.71, SD 25.63. The Watson-Glaser Thinking Appraisal was the main test

given to measure cognitive performance but SAS was also used for all statistical

analysis. The authors also measured cognitive performance, on all variables, by

performing multiple analysis of variance or MANOVA. The sleep-deprived students did

much worse on the Watson-Glaser Thinking Appraisal than the students that were not

sleep-deprived.

The participants mood was evaluated using the Profile of Mood States or POMS. On

the Profile of Mood States scale, current mood states were listed using sixty-five words.

The students could rate their current mood on a scale from zero to seven. The higher the

number

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