Advising Sleep Deprived Students to Take Online Classes

Richard J Fendler, Craig Ruff


Surveys indicate that nearly three-fourths of all college students do not get an adequate amount of sleep on most nights and over half report daytime sleepiness. Sleep deficiency impairs cognitive function, diminishes academic performance, and impedes learning. Asynchronous online education, which provides flexibility to participate in learning exercises and complete assignments at a time and pace that better matches a student’s sleep schedule, may offer a solution to this problem. In this study, we examine the impact of reported sleep deprivation on learning outcomes for a group of students who took an asynchronous online class versus a similar group of students who took the same class in a face-to-face (F2F) setting (N = 399). Our results indicate that whereas sleep deprivation, all other factors held constant, significantly negatively affects learning for F2F students, no such influence is observed for online learners. Student counselors and school administrators should therefore consider advising sleep-deprived students to take more online classes to enhance student learning outcomes, which in turn may improve student retention and degree completion.


college students; sleep deprivation; face-to-face education; asynchronous online learning; improved learning outcomes; student retention; degree completion

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