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Effect of sleep deprivation on the attitude and performance of medical students, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Hussein Saad Amin, Ibrahim Salamah Almazroua, Abdullah Sulaiman Alsahlan, Mohammed Abdullah Alrishan, Houssam Mourad Elmourad, Mohammed Mansour Alotaibi, Abdulaziz Ibrahim Almohaisin.

Background: Sleep is crucial for learning, performance, and physical and mental health. College students often have erratic sleep schedules, poor sleep hygiene, and correspondingly poor sleep quality, which might affect their performance.

Objective: To study the effect of sleep deprivation on medical students at different academic levels and investigate causes of sleep deprivation affecting them and problems related to it.

Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in September 2012. The participants were medical students of the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth academic years in the College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Result: There were 341 responses, with a response rate of 88.8%. The number of medical students who had normal sleeping hours was 104 (53.1%) male students and 71 (49%) female students. The prevalence of sleep deprivation was more among male students (62 [31.6%]) as compared with female students (42 [29%]), P value was 0.278. Fifth-level students were more deprived on weekdays and weekends than other level students with P value 0.216 and 0.001, respectively. There was a significant difference in the grade point average (GPA) in relation to sleep deprivation. The number of students who got GPA 4 or more and who were sleep deprived was 68 (65.4%) whereas the number of those who were not sleep deprived was 180 (83%) (P = 0.0004).

Conclusion: The most common cause of sleep deprivation among medical students was studying. Certain sleep disorders were found in this group of students, the most common one was not getting enough sleep time. Sleep deprivation was negatively associated with academic performance in the medical students. It is the role of the educators and college authorities to empower and educate college students about good sleep habits to improve their performance.

Key words: Sleep deprivation, medical students, academic performance

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