Physical & Mental Performance in Relation to Sleep; Males vs. Females

This topic submitted by NIkki Martinkovic, Sarah Brown, Caroline Twombly, & Tommy Watkins ( ) on 12/10/05. [Section: Myers]
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Natural Systems 1 Syllabus---Western Program---Miami University

Physical & Mental Performance in Relation to Sleep
Male vs. Female
I. Introduction
How many times have you heard the saying, “YOU CAN SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD”? First off, don’t think you can put off sleep until you’re dead because it is physically impossible to fully function under extreme lengths of sleep deprivation. College is supposed to be a time of both learning and socializing but rarely does a college student figure out the most efficient balance between work and play. The National Sleep Foundations found that "college-age students need the third greatest amount of sleep of any age group, right behind infants and children, yet are the most likely to give up their precious sleep hours if there isn't otherwise enough time to get things done" (National Sleep Foundation 2000). A student from The University of Vermont, Aja Varney, further proved that college aged students are most prone to giving up sleep when there is not enough hours in the day to get everything done. This is displayed in a graph (Sample Figure 1 below) by showing who would give up sleep when there are in fact not enough hours in the day to get everything done (Varney 2001). Sleep is a vital resource for human function, but ironically it is the first thing sacrificed by most students. In a recent study done by a student in the Department of Computer Applications in Agriculture and Life Studies at the University of Vermont found that “79% of college students are not getting enough sleep” and “33% reported that sleepiness interferes with daily activities” (Evans et al 1977). Amy R. Wolfson and Mary A. Carskadon distributed sleep habit surveys to four high schools in Rhode Island, “statistically the study discovered that students who considered themselves struggling in a C to F range received about 25 minutes of less sleep on school nights than students with an average of A to B” (Wolfson and Carskadon 1998). Along with food, sleep rejuvenates the body in order to keep our bodies running. It has been proven by a study conducted by Sarah Hensen, a health educator at the University of Iowa, “in the United States, our average amount of sleep has decreased by 20 percent in the past century, while work and commuting time has increased” (Hansen 2005). Not getting enough sleep seems to be a common occurrence among most Americans and by not getting enough sleep we are jeopardizing our quality of life. According to Hansen, “adequate sleep is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, and sleep has positive emotional and physical effects” (Hansen 2005). Getting enough sleep is an essential part of life and holding it off until we are dead isn’t the most responsible choice for healthy living.
After personally experiencing situations of obtaining insufficient sleep, we’ve come to the conclusion that lack of sleep has a negative affect on our bodies. Due to the minute amount of sleep that we have been constrained to, our stress levels have soared leaving us feeling lethargic and passive. It seems that lack of sleep not only causes stress but also affects our reaction time. The less amount of sleep we get the longer it takes to react. In fact, many studies have been done concluding that exact prediction. In the Science News, Ben Harder discusses his study on physicians who received insufficient amount of sleep throughout a month long period. He explains “fatigued physicians show impairments in driving and other tasks requiring constant attention and quick reactions” (Harder 2005). We predict that one cannot fully function to the best of their ability when running on insufficient amount of sleep in all aspects of life whether it be driving or doing homework. Anne Novitt-Moreno discusses in her article “teens who don’t sleep enough, according to doctors, not only get lower grades, they also risk more frequent car crashes. Knowing this, doctors in the Minnesota Medical Association actually wrote to superintendents of that state’s of 450 school districts urging them not to open high schools before 8am” (Novitt-Moreno 1998). Overall, students who get less sleep do not function entirely and through various studies this prediction has been reported as a prospective conclusion in that lack of sleep does affect daily activities.
In these regards, it is obvious that a person who lacks a sufficient amount of sleep has a harder time functioning daily. In particular, lack of sleep negatively influences academic performance in our daily lives. Evans discusses Epstein and his colleagues, observations which are, “less total sleep time was associated with daytime fatigue, inability to concentrate in school, and tendency to dose off in class” (Evans et al 1977). Due to the insufficient amount of sleep many college students are getting at night, it seems that they are attempting to make up the sleep they lost during the day. Naps during the day are both ways to attempt to get caught up and a mental refresher. Evans, Cook, Cohen, Emily Onre, and Martin Onre’s study on “Appetitive and Replacement Naps: EEG and Behaviors” showed that “about 22% of the 261 nappers were classified as appetitive nappers and 78% napped primarily for replacement reasons” (Evans et al 1977). Appetitive refers primarily to people who nap for “physiological benefits” even though they aren’t tired (Evans et al 1977). Through this experiment, our hypothesis is that sleep deprivation affects both stress levels and reaction times and according our research we believe that women will show more stress and a slower reaction time than males.

Sample Figure 1.1 Graph on Students and Sleep Sacrifice

II. Materials and Methods

In order to study the effects that lack of sleep has on individuals we determined how much sleep they are currently getting. We began this experiment by administering eight questions to our fifty subjects. These preliminary questions are extremely important to our study. This background information on our subjects is needed because we find it necessary to obtain their standards. When discovering our subject’s habits we are able to better understand our subjects and create a more successful analysis. After collecting the data, these questions didn’t necessarily pertain directly to our graphs and statistics for our t-tests but it gave us a helpful statistical overview for comparing male vs. male, female vs. female, and male vs. female. We chose to compare if individuals worried about daily tasks, increases in skin break outs when there is a lot to do, and if they had fallen asleep in class and if it was a consistent pattern amongst each individual.
In addition to the four questions, we created a log (see Sample Figure 2 below) for phase one that extends for a period of seven days in which our subjects recorded their bedtime and waking time, as well as any other periods of sleep that occurred throughout the day. Since we are administering our logs to twenty-five men and twenty-five women we are color coding them to make it easier to distinguish the logs while we are analyzing the data. The men’s logs were on green paper and the women’s logs were on pink paper. This log began on Tuesday, November 28, 2005 and ended on Tuesday, December 4, 2005. Once this period came to a conclusion, we retrieved the logs from our subjects and began to analyze our data. By collecting this data we were able to categorize who received sufficient amount of sleep, if anybody. Once obtaining the sleep logs from our subjects, we looked at each individual log and add up all the hours of sleep that they had received during our observation week. We then took their total hours slept and compared it to 56 hours because that is the suggested amount of sleep for the average adult as suggested by Larson, Kemp, and Segal. Larson, Kemp, and Segal explained their thoughts that, “for most adults 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep” (Larson et al 2005). By subtracting their total from 56 we were able to gauge how much sleep they should have obtained, keeping in mind that some people are able to function just as well on less than 8 hours of sleep a night compared to people who have gotten 8 hours of sleep a night. We passed out our sleep logs to fifty-people, twenty-five being male and twenty-five being female. Our intention is to compare the males who ran on an inadequate amount of sleep with the woman who ran on an inadequate amount of sleep during this particular week of observation in hopes of determining which gender tends to be less stressed. A study Bubboltiz and colleagues performed found that out of 95 men and 96 women “A large majority (73%) of the students indicated at least occasional sleep problems, with women reporting more of some difficulties than man did” (Bubboltiz et al 2001). This study leads us into phase two of our research.
Phase two is based upon the idea of stress as a result of getting insufficient amount of sleep. R.E Dahl reported in his article, Consequences of Insufficient Sleep for Adolescents, that “not enough sleep may show an increase in irritability and less tolerance for situations that create negative emotions depending on the psychological profile of the individual” (Dahl 1999) . In our research we analyzed the assessment questions that were located underneath the sleep log. These daily questions pertain to daily activities that indicate stress. Each question is designed specifically so that it has a positive and negative answer choice but it depends on each individual question. For example, a “yes” answer does not always indicate a positive response as well as a “no” answer does not always represent a negative response. Based on their answers to the “Yes or No” assessment questions we each individual’s average answer of particular questions that pertained to stress levels. We asked several questions but after analyzing our data, we discovered that we asked questions that were too far off the topic of stress to relate back to pertaining to our topic so we eliminated those questions due to their irrelevance. We also took into account each individual’s amount of sleep they received which is recorded in the weekly logs and also analyzed in our graphs and statistics. Through this assessment, we were able to analyze how insufficient amount of sleep and negative stress affects healthy lifestyles.
We administered a reaction time test which was created by Robert J. Wood Designs (Wood 2005). We asked our subjects to conclude our research by taking this final examination to test their reaction time. The background color on the website changes at varying times at which the subject is to click to acknowledge a change in the background color. This website records how long it takes the individual to click the screen which represents their reaction time. Through a variety of trials of different reaction tests, we found that this test gages the reaction time of each individual fairly, accurately, and unbiased. The other reaction tests we found were more vulnerable to human error.
With all this gathered information, we collaborated our data to see whether or not insufficient amount of sleep has a negative effect on physical and mental overall health. In conclusion, we rewarded our subjects for their cooperation and commitment to our research.

Sample Figure 2: Sleep and Stress Logs
Woke up at:
Went to bed at:
Nap: ___(time)
Total amount of sleep:
_____hours, _____minutes

*Do you tend to worry about your daily tasks? Y____ N____
*Did you get all of your work done today? Y____ N____
*Are you worried about the work you did not finish, if any? Y____ N____
*Rate the amount of anxiety felt overall today from 0 to 10; keep in mind this is in comparison to your average day.
0 = none
5 = medium amount
10 = excessive amount

*Did you experience any headaches today? Y____ N____
*If yes, rate them from 0 to 10. ________

*When you have a lot of things to do, do you have an increase in skin breakouts? Y____ N____
*Have you ever fallen asleep during class this year? Y____ N____
*If yes, do you consistently fall asleep in class? Y____ N____
*Do you exercise on a regular basis? Y____ N____

III. Our Day
On our day of teaching we went into detail about our lab without giving too much information that could potentially skew our data in any way. We wanted the class to understand what we were questioning but we didn’t want them to know the whole idea behind it. We started our “our day” by presenting the class with a movie clip from a documentary presented by a series of doctors explaining sleep deprivation and its commonality in our society. Following our video and the explanation of its relationship to our lab report, we engaged the students in a question and answer session that not only helped us make alterations to our original plan behind our lab but it also allowed us to see where our lab was truly going. Some of the questions we asked included: directed at the freshman, “has your sleeping pattern changed after coming to college?” directed at the upperclassman, “has your sleeping patterns changed since freshman year, and if yes have you lost sleep?” and “has the work load increased causing more stress?” Our questions pertained to our lab report but they didn’t allow the students understand exactly what would be asked later in our data surveys. We went on to explain our lab report but we kept the class involved by performing a stand-up exercise that involved dividing the class according to how much sleep they received the previous night. We separated the groups according to insufficient amount of sleep (0-3 hrs), medium amount of sleep (4-5 hrs), and sufficient amount of sleep (6-8 hrs). Following the class separation, we asked each group if the amount of sleep they received was normal or was not typically consistent. After the question in each group, we took a male and female from each group and had them take the reaction test that we would later have our subjects take in order to show the relationship between sleep and reaction time. The students with the least amount of sleep showed a slower reaction time as compared to the students who received both medium and sufficient amount of sleep. The data that we collected in class was a representation of our hypothesis that stated sleep affects reaction times. We wrapped up our presentation reviewing the key points of our project, again, without giving too much information about our future data collections.
IV. Results
We asked our 50 subjects to complete a four question preliminary survey in order to establish an understanding of their existing sleeping habits. The questions that appeared on the survey are as follows:

1) Do you tend to worry about your daily tasks? Y___ N___
2) When you have a lot of things to do, do you have an increase in skin breakouts? Y___N___
3) Have you ever fallen asleep in class this year? Y___N___
4) If yes, do you consistently fall asleep in class? Y___N___

From this data we have compared the response of female vs. female, male vs. male, and female vs. male. For the first question 72% of the 25 females polled worry about their daily tasks where as only 48% of the 25 men polled that worry about their daily tasks. A greater percentage of females (72 %) worry about their daily tasks than not. A greater percentage of males (52%) do not worry about their daily tasks than do. Only 44% of our females polled experience intense skin break outs when they have an increase in their daily tasks while only 28% of men experience this when their daily task increase. 56% of females do not see an increase in skin break outs when their work load increases where as 72% of males do not see an increase in skin break outs when their work load increases. We also found that 68% of our males polled fell asleep at least once during class this year where as only 64% if the females polled had fallen asleep. Even though our poll results show that more males have fallen asleep once this year as compared to females but we found that more girls had fallen asleep consistently. Our data showed that 16 girls had admitted to falling asleep at least once this year. Out of those 16 girls, 9 of them (56%) had said that they fall asleep in class on a regular basis. 17 of our males polled said they fell asleep during class this year at least once, but only 7 of those 17 (41%) regularly fall asleep in class.
Now that we have finished with the preliminary data we can move on to the sleep logs and daily questions. After doing a one-way analysis of hours slept by gender, we found that the female mean hours of sleep for the week we gathered data was 47.22 hours. The males mean sleep was 47.52 hours. We saw that men, on average, get more sleep. However, after we conducted a t-test that revealed a p-value of .5403 we realized that our data was not significant. There is a 54% probability that we could obtain these results by chance alone, and in fact gender has no affect on how many hours a person sleeps at night. In addition to comparing gender and hours slept that week we compared a one-way analysis of anxiety by gender. We averaged each person’s anxiety for that week. We came up with a mean of 3.87 on a scale of 1 to 10 for women and a mean of 2.72 out of 10 for males. Our p-value came out to be .0406.
Our final comparison was with gender and reaction time tests. Again the males and females scored similarly with a few outliers. Our p-value for this test was .72. Our data was not significant and there is a 72% probability that we could read these results by chance alone.
We then conducted a bivariate fit of the reaction time test results by the hours slept. It is hard to make a decision whether or not sleep actually does affect one’s reaction. A problem we found with the JMP program was that we could not separate or signify which were females and which we males. But overall it showed that we could not explain this data by chance alone.
With all this data combined we discovered we have come to the conclusion that we can neither accept nor reject our null hypothesis. This is due to the fact that there was no difference between the sleeping hours of males and females, but in addition there was a difference between the anxiety levels of males and females. If we had more time and more extensive knowledge of the JMP program we could have perhaps found a difference correlating hours slept, reaction time and anxiety with gender.
V. Discussion:
In conclusion to our lab, we found that the period of time given to us was too short to do an extremely extensive analysis of how sleep affects both stress and reaction time. If we would have had more time, we would have analyzed each individual’s day-to-day schedule to see if some individuals were doing more strenuous work that could have affected their tiredness more than others. If so, this could have skewed our data for both the reaction time and the stress levels. The majority of our subjects were interior design and architecture students so typically they have the same amount of work. This shows that more likely that our data was not skewed but there still is a possibility.
In ever experiment there are typically sources of error that alter the final data that is collected. Particularly, in our data collections we feel that human error could have been present when our subjects filled out our surveys. They could have rushed through our questions just to get them done without honestly answering them. They could have also misunderstood the questions in which wrote up for them to answer. We realize that our subjects didn’t necessarily follow our exact plan in answering our data but we understand that there is always chance of error in short research.
Our chosen week of observation was picked because it was the week following Thanksgiving break and we figured our subjects would be starting the week off with a sufficient amount of sleep. We feel as if we chose the right week because it started off slow but the work load increased as finals approached. But, one issue that we came across was that it was hard to track down our subjects to give them our surveys for the week due to the different arrival times coming back from Thanksgiving break.
6 September 2005-Post research ideas
6 October 2005-Submit lab proposal
28 November 2005-Distribute preliminary question and daily sleep logs and questions to our subjects
4 December 2005- Collect surveys and administer reaction time tests
5 December 2005- Group Analysis of data
9 December 2005- Post online

Works Cited
*Buboltz, Walter C., Franklin Brown, and Barlow Soper. "Sleep Habits and Patterns of College Students: A Preliminary Study." Journal of American College Health ns 3 (2001).. 19 Oct. 2005
"College Kids and the Amount of Sleep." 2000. National Sleep Foundation. 19 Oct. 2005
*Dahl, R E. Phi Delta Kappan. 1999. Consequences of insufficient sleep for adolescents. 19 Oct. 2005.
Evans, Frederick R., Mary R. Cook, Harvey D. Cohen, Emily C. Orne, and Martin T. Orne. "Appetitive and Replacement Naps: EEG and Behavior." Science ns 197 (1977): 687-689. JSTOR. 19 Oct. 2005.
Hansen, Sarah. "Fitting Sleep Into a College Schedule." College Health Tips. Dec. 2003. Student Health Services, University of Iowa. 22 Oct. 2005
Harder, Ben. "Dead Tired." Science News 168 (2005). Academic Search premier. 21 Oct. 2005
Larson, Heather, Gina Kemp, and Robert Segal. "How much sleep do I need?" Getting the Sleep You Need: Sleep Stages, Sleep Tips and Aids. 13 Apr. 2005. Center for Healthy Aging, Santa Monica. 19 Oct. 2005
Novitt-Moreno, Anne. "WHY SLEEP?" Current Health 2 25 (1998): 6-7. Academic Search premier. 21 Oct. 2005
Tartaglia, Brandon, Alex Hochstetler, Drew Schreiner, Evin Teska, and Lindsay Schmid, comps. We architects cannot "Stress" enough. 7 Oct. 2004. Natural Systems, Miami University. 19 Oct. 2005
Varney, Aja. "Sleep in the College Life." 19 Apr. 2001. Computer Applications in Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Vermont. 19 Oct. 2005
Weisbecker, Liz, Sarah Peterson, Matt Dudzik, and Becky Singson, comps. Stress and Amount of Sleep (Okay... and BE STILL!). 19 Apr. 2002. Natural Systems, Miami University. 21 Oct. 2005
Wolfson, Amy R., and Mary A. Carskadon. "Sleep Schedules and Daytime Functioning in Adolescents." Child Development 69 (1998): 875-887. JSTOR. 19 Oct. 2005
Wood, Robert J. "Reaction Time." 29 Aug. 2005. TopEndSportsNetwork. 22 Oct. 2005

*To access these articles, you must go to and type in “The Impact of Sleep on Learning and Behavior in Adolescents”, due to the fact that the website, <> terminates one hour after viewing the article.

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