How do you sleep at night?
a survey study on sleep deprivation and cognition
Background: Sacrificing sleep on a daily basis has become a lifestyle for a growing number of people. This habit has been found to decrease overall cognitive health and performance. Raising awareness about benefits of a good night’s sleep and the negative effects of inadequate sleep is pertinent to shaping a healthy public conscience about sleep. It is also an important factor to consider for public health professionals since they must think critically throughout the working day and their work impacts those in their care. The purpose of this study was to assess the association between cognitive performance and sleep-related habits in a population of 31 Environmental Health students at BCIT during the Winter 2014 semester. Methods: A survey that collected subjective data on sleep-related habits and a brief cognitive test were used to assess cognitive performance. The cognitive test scores were marked with an index out of 20 and analyzed with a paired T-test to explore any differences from two study trials in January and February. Results: There was a significant decrease in cognitive index scores over the four week period. This was confirmed by a paired T-test with a p-value of 0.000005, with a significance level of α = 0.05. Average index scores were 18.91993 in January, 15.87063 in February, and the rounded average decline in scores was 3.13. Conclusion: Using an electronic device prior to going to sleep was deemed to be the most likely factor behind a significant decline in cognitive performance between January and February. Excessive exposure to light during naturally dark hours of the evening may curtail physiological processes during sleep (i.e. hormonal activities) effecting cognitive health and performance.