Does sleep deprivation in college students influence reaction time?

Elena Pellicer and Margarita Ontiveros

Does sleep deprivation in college students influence reaction time?

Elena Pellicer and Margarita Ontiveros

 

            In todayÕs busy society, getting a good nightÕs sleep has become an ever-increasing problem. College students in particular are veryare particularly susceptible to sleep deprivation. To investigate reaction time in in sleep deprived collegecollege students, we measured the reaction times of students following a nights rest ranging from 3-9 hours. From several primary studies we learned that reaction time is connected to the function of our neuronsneural function and their ability to send rapidthe rapid transport of signals throughout our mental network, but as the day progresses, we wear out these pathways and they lose their ability to transmit signals as quickly.  Sleep has generally been accepted as a restorative process, but the effects of minimal sleep on the reaction times of college students remains poorly understood. Eight hours of sleep is generallythe accepted as the standard for the hours of sleep needed to replenish and repairrestore the human body from the physical and mental stresses of an average day.  In college students, six hours of sleep appears to beis more representative of the time needed to be considered fully rested, therefore we used 6 hours of sleep as our cutoff to consider students as well rested (greater than 6 hours6 hours or more) or sleep deprived (less than  6 hours).  We hypothesize that sleeping at least 6 hours a night gives a college studentÕs brain adequate time to repair the neurons that were used during the previous day.  With a greater degree of neural regeneration, these students should demonstrate quicker reaction times.

To test our hypothesis we used a reaction timer to record the rthe reaction times of 20 volunteers. We recorded how many hours of sleep each participant received theeach participant slept the previous night, creating two sleep categories, one for people with greater than 66 or more hours of sleep and one fopeople withr fewer than 6 hours of sleep. Each individual was run through 5 reaction time trials. Reaction tTimes were recorded in seconds.  We kept the number of variables constant by using the same reaction timer throughout the experiment and requiring each participant to keep their hand approximately 2 inches above the response buttons.  Since sthe students who had slept 6 hours or more the previous night would have had sufficient time to recuperate from the previous dayÕs activitiesday, we predicted them to have fastertheir reaction times to be faster than the group that  who had Ôd slept less than 6 hours.   

            The resulting reaction times from our 20 student volunteers indicated that there was no significant difference between sleep deprived (mean = .6754 sec.) and well rested students (mean = .646 sec., P = .414 > .05).

            Our results did not support our hypothesis.  Sleep did not appear to affect reaction time.  A potential problem with our procedure was the use of different colored lights and a sound as the trigger for the reaction response.  There could be variation in how different participants respond to the different response triggers (colors or sound). If we were to repeat this experiment, we would keep the response trigger constant for all individuals, giving us more informative results.  If our expanded experiment still failed to support our hypothesis, then perhaps in a future experiment we could attempt a to supporttest another factor that could affect reaction time: our daily breakfast diet.   

 

 

Look at pg. 205 in you lab book, might want to think of some way to write an extension sentence here (extension is the same thing as a conclusion statement pg. 205 will make this clear)).