In “University Students and ‘The All Nighter’ Correlates and Patterns of Students’ Engagement in a Single Night of Total Sleep Deprivation”, Thacher studies the effects of sleep deprivation in college students at a four-year liberal arts college.
Thacher argues that “single night of total sleep deprivation”, also known as, SN-TSD, will lead to students suffering negative consequences in academic areas. Thacher begins by introducing and describing previous studies of the effects of sleep deprivation on high school and college students. She discusses how SN-TSD, also known as an all-nighter, related to later self-reported bedtimes, poorer academic achievements, GPA’s and mental health. She summarizes previous studies and their study on the cognitive function that weaken over time as well as worsened academic performance and poor performance throughout the day. Thacher makes clear the distinction between college and high school students and distinguishes that in her study, she measures the effects of an all-nighter only for college students. Thacher goes on to explain that her study focuses on the frequency and motivation for all-nighters, examining why college students use all-nighters and the effects of all-nighters.
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Thacher formulates many hypotheses about the effects of college students who perform an all-nighter. One such hypothesis is that an all-nighter will affect the circadian cycle, of which a student goes to sleep and wakes up, which Thacher argues has many serious implications. Thacher moves on to describing the method that she used for her experiment. She chose college students from liberal arts college in which she selected students from intro and higher-level psychology courses of the same academic school year. The chosen participants included students of all grades, however, there were mostly freshmen/first year students. Thacher describes how the student participants completed a self-survey on demographics where they stated their gender, age, semester standing and the number of all-nighters they pulled. In the experiment, Thacher stresses her definition of an all-nighter, SN-TSD, by stating that it is “a night on which you remember staying up past your usual wake time, whenever that might be” (20). Thacher also reinforces that student participants had to answer questions about their bed/rise time and sleep quality/quantity and explaining that that information will be useful in investigating how those factors work in conjunction with the results from the self-survey.
As Thacher explains and analyzes her findings, she makes a disclaimer that majority of the student participants were female freshmen students. Thacher discovers that the data she had gathered followed a similar trend she had noticed before: that students that were engaging in all-nighters, even just once, had lower GPA’s as well as more night time tendencies. Thacher goes on to explain why she thinks all-nighters might affect GPA’s. She credits this to “procrastination” and students playing “lengthy ‘catch-up’ naps; and further missed classes, late assignment, and so forth” (27). Although Thacher’s goal in her experiment was to find if engaging in an all-nighter would lead to any consequences for students, she also investigated the reasons for people not engaging in all-nighters. She discovers a mixed result of people saying that they were efficient in getting homework or that they were too tired at that time of the night.
Because of this, Thacher argues that these student participants had probably engaged in all-nighters in high school and did not enjoy that experience. Thacher argues that “procrastination is a possible motivation for SN-TSD” (29). She says, “if procrastination is, indeed, a primary reason that some students engage in SN-TSD to complete their work, the repeated use of this practice might serve as a kind of ‘academic warning flag’ for students indicating that this practice may lead to increasing problems with time management and self-regulation” (29). This suggests a cycle that the students are unable to break and becomes a regular matter to engage in all-nighters, which Thacher argues, can lead to cognitive deficits leading to poorer performance in school, resulting in lower GPA’s.
Thus, Thacher argues that irregular and poor sleep quality associated with all-nighters lead to serious consequences for college students.