Could nicotine, alcohol and caffeine plead not guilty to compromising sleep quality in students during exam time? Could perceived stress be the primary villain?. A longitudinal questionnaire study of 150 university students and evaluation of their responses by Matthias Zunhammer, Peter Eichhammer and Volker Busch seem to suggest so.
In a new study titled “Sleep Quality during Exam Stress: The Role of Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotine“. That students report poor sleep during exam time, which in turn results in diminished academic performance and well-being is both acknowledged and documented. This interesting evaluation seeks to assess how sleep quality, as well as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine consumption change during academic exam stress, and whether they are interrelated.
Using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to survey sleep quality before, during, and after an academic exam period, and the Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ-20) as a measure of stress, they found that sleep quality and alcohol consumption significantly decreased, while perceived stress and caffeine consumption significantly increased during the exam period.
A mixed model analysis seemed to indicate that sex, age, health status, as well as the amounts of alcohol and caffeine consumed had no significant influence on sleep quality. Consumption of nicotine seemed to play a small-to-very-small effect while perceived stress stood out as the significant predictor of diminished sleep quality.
With their findings tilting towards the conclusion that legal drug consumption plays a minor role in impacting sleep quality, exam periods could pose an interesting model for the study of stress-induced sleeping problems and their mechanisms.
Source: Pubmed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4184882/