Pulling an All-Nighter Impairs Organic Chemistry Learning: An At-Home, Zoom-Based Sleep Deprivation Experiment

Date

2024

Authors

Tran, David

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Abstract

Many college students willfully restrict their sleep to study, especially when taking notoriously difficult courses like organic chemistry. Undergraduate students (N=77) completed a 5-day study. Actigraphy watch and Oura ring monitoring confirmed that participants in the normal sleep condition slept on the experimental night, whereas participants in the sleep deprivation condition did not sleep [actigraphy M=0.04 hours, ring M=0.08 hours; t=23.0, p<0.001, d=5.93]. Sleep deprivation significantly impaired morning organic chemistry learning (M=44.0%) compared to normal sleep [M=57.03%; t(62)=3.15, p=0.002, d=0.78]. Impairments of academic performance were still observed at the two-day retention test but to a lesser extent (Sleep deprivation: 42.39%; Normal sleep: 52.27%, p =0.024, d =0.57). Pulling an all-nighter was sufficient to compromise complex academic learning. Sleep deprivation experiments can be feasibly conducted in participants’ homes so long as they are video-monitored by research staff and wakefulness is confirmed by wearable sleep trackers.

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Keywords

Sleep., Sleep deprivation., Sleep loss., Academic performance., Academics., Organic Chemistry., Zoom.

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