Sleep and Why it is Important  

In 2014, a Graduate Student Happiness and Wellbeing report identified that one of the key issues for PGR students was the need to improve healthy wellbeing and habits, in particular sleep [1]. 

The PGR students in this survey appeared to be aware of the importance of sleep and the benefits of sleep for wellbeing. They also had a desire to increase the amount of sleep they were getting regularly. Unfortunately, improving their sleep was something that they did not seem able to do and this has been found in other studies. For instance, a study by Kabrita [2] revealed that in a study with 540 university students over half were poor sleepers and over 12% reported sleeping less than 6.5 hours per night.  

Lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on a PGR student’s wellbeing and life satisfaction.  A study by Ness & Saksvik-Lehouillier [3]  found that student satisfaction with life was increased when they had a good quality sleep, got the recommended amount of sleep overall and did not vary their sleep times.  

Lack of sleep can also affect your performance and impact on your problem solving, learning, academic performance, mood and mental health [4].

Quality and quantity of sleep have been found to closely associate with learning capacity and academic performance [5].  Academic performance has been shown to decrease when an individual has less sleep or decreased quality of sleep [6]. It has also been associated with deficits in attention, drowsiness [7] and riskier behaviours [8]. 

Furthermore, lack of sleep has also been found to affect problem solving in many studies. One study found that one night of lost sleep can significantly affect complex cognitive tasks [9]. A number of studies have also found that the speed of the problem-solving performance decreases with lack of sleep [10]. 

PGR project work is composed of many complex tasks and ongoing problem solving. Good sleep is one way of ensuring that your problem-solving ability remains in good working order and that you are ready to complete the many tasks that face you. 

Working late into the night can reduce this capacity and so giving up sleep for work, is likely to reduce your productivity overall.

If you have difficulty with your sleep, you can find tips to help you here – “Tips to Improve Your Sleep

Video Resources

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Dr. Ingvild Saksvik-Lehouillier (Norwegian University): Importance of Sleep and Wellbeing

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PGR Students Discuss Their Sleep and the Strategies They Use to Get Better Sleep

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Sleep: Animation created by Madeleine Tizard and Ole Kristian Dale, BA Animation Students - University of Derby.



Smith, Galen, T. (2014). The Graduate Assembly Graduate Student Happiness & Well-Being Report | 2014. Retrieved from


Kabrita, C. S., Hajjar-Muça, T. A., & Duffy, J. F. (2014). Predictors of poor sleep quality among Lebanese university students: association between evening typology, lifestyle behaviors, and sleep habits. Nature and Science of Sleep, 6, 11–18.


Ness, T. E. B., & Saksvik-Lehouillier, I. (2018). The Relationships between Life Satisfaction and Sleep Quality, Sleep Duration and Variability of Sleep in University Students. Journal of European Psychology Students, 9(1), 28–39.


Harrison, Y., & Home, J. A. (2000). The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Decision Making: A Review. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 6(3), 236–249.


Curcio, G., Ferrara, M., & De Gennaro, L. (2006). Sleep loss, learning capacity and academic performance. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 10, 323–337.


Howell, A. J., Jahrig, J. C., & Powell, R. A. (2004). Sleep Quality, Sleep Propensity and Academic Performance. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 99(2), 525–535.


Cummings, P., Koepsell, T. D., Moffat, J. M., & Rivara, F. P. (2001). Drowsiness, counter-measures to drowsiness, and the risk of a motor vehicle crash. Injury Prevention, 7(3), 194–199.


O’Brien, E. M., & Mindell, J. A. (2005). Sleep and Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 3(3), 113–133.


Linde, L., & Bergstrme, M. (1992). The effect of one night without sleep on problem-solving and immediate recall. Psychological Research, 54(2), 127–136.


Ryman, D. H., Naitoh, P., & Englund, C. E. (1985). Decrements in Logical Reasoning Performance under Conditions of Sleep Loss and Physical Exercise: The Factor of Sentence Complexity. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 61(3_suppl), 1179–1188.