Sleep impacts academic performance and other areas of wellness. Despite the importance of sleep, it is not always a focus for universities' wellness efforts. The University of Iowa implemented the Refresh Sleep Program powered by Sleeprate.
According to the 2019 NCHA data, students at the University of Iowa (UI) and nationwide report sleep difficulties as one of the top 3 impediments to learning.
Over 40% of UI students report problems with sleepiness during daytime activities, a number which has been steadily increasing over the past decade.
Sleep issues have been linked to a variety of concerns, including irritability, depression, fatigue, attention and concentration difficulties, and poor academic performance. Research is lacking on effective measures for improving sleep among college students.
The Refresh program, powered by Sleerpate aims to help students at the University of Iowa increase the quality and quantity of their sleep and better understand how sleep impacts their overall success. The goal of this assessment project was to analyze effectiveness of this program for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Program evaluation has shown improvements in all sleep measures due to the use of the Sleeprate solution: reductions in difficulty falling asleep, in difficulty staying asleep, in waking-up too early, and in worrying about sleep; as well as an increase in satisfaction and in quality of sleep.
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Benefits and advantages
In an observational study, presented by Trisha Welter, MPH, MCHES, and Becca Don, MA, CADC from the Student Wellness Center of The University of Iowa at the American College Health Association (ACHA), the impact of the Refresh Sleep Program powered by Sleeprate was presented.
Significant* Reductions In:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Problems waking too early
- Noticeability of sleep problem to other
- Interference with daily functioning
- Worry/distress about a sleep problem
- Problems with sleep
- Restless sleep
- Efforts to get to sleep
- Worry/distress about not being able to fall asleep
Significant* Increases In:
- Satisfaction with current sleep pattern
- Sleep quality
- Refreshing sleep
*Changes significantly at p<.001; combines data from both email and app participants who completed evaluation (n=302)
Increase In Student’s Satisfaction:
- 8% reported learning more about their sleep
- 3% agreed that the program motivated them to improve their sleeping habits
- 2% would recommend the program to a friend
Education and sleep deprivation tend to go hand in hand. The change in lifestyle can be difficult for college students as they have busy social lives and often pulling ‘all-nighters’, causing a deficiency. Between varying class times and demanding work schedules, sleep is all too often a low priority for students. Lifestyle and culture inevitably play a big role in this phenomenon, as the average college student is likely to cram late-night studying sessions in and around partying, other social activities, and pretty much anything else we’ve all done in college to put off something that’s of such ‘little importance’ as sleep. The refresh program powered by Sleeprate got the students of the University of Iowa to put sleep as a priority. Here are some of their reactions:
“It’s great that programs addressing sleep quality exist—it is such an important, and often overlooked topic. Though I continue to struggle with sleep, this program and the app have helped, and I’ll continue to use what I’ve learned here. I really love the app and will continue to use it, because I find that I sleep better after tracking my sleep”
“Love the app“
“Thank you for offering this service”
“It helped me focus more on my sleep, which I have struggled with in the past”
“I plan on keeping up with the app for as long as possible. It was a good program and I learned a lot about my sleeping habits and Love the app on how to improve them!”
The observational study results showed a substantial number of students engagement with the sleep program as well as improvement in their sleep quality and overall health:
- The Refresh program was effective in improving sleep among students
- Students reported great satisfaction with the program
- Not surprisingly, students greatly prefer to enroll in the app version of the program
- Programs like this are a great way to reach many students in an individualized way, while still maintaining fairly low cost
- Sleep programs are an important addition to college wellness programs, given sleep’s impact on health and academic success.