Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

College Students at Risk for Poor Sleep, Mental Illness

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

College Students at Risk for Poor Sleep, Mental Illness

Article excerpt

FROM THE JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENCE

Just over one-third of college students were at risk for one sleeping disorder, and one in five were at risk for a mental disorder, a recent study found.

"Participants at risk for sleep disorders were more likely to have poor health, lower working memory capacity, and more psychological symptoms than normal sleepers," Megan Petrov of the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and her associates reported in the Journal of Adolescence (2014;37:587-97).

The researchers used online questionnaires to assess insomnia symptoms, sleep quality, working memory, and the physical and mental health of 1,684 undergraduate college students at the university. The students, recruited in 2010 and 2011, were primarily women (77%). In addition, most were non-Hispanic white (77%), and the mean body mass index (BMI) was 23.5 plus or minus 4.7.

The researchers found that 36% of the students screened positive for having a sleep disorder, most commonly insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and periodic limb movement disorder, and 6.3% screened positive for at least two sleeping disorders. Only 10% of the students reported having a mental disorder diagnosis, but 20% reported frequent symptoms of sadness and anxiety.

Although nightmares and obstructive sleep apnea were less common, those with nightmares or parasomnias were more likely to have mental disorders. Women had a higher risk than men for sleep disorders--especially insomnia--and were more likely to report mental health problems. …

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