Pharmacy Students' Sleep Quality Linked to GPA

March 20, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

As Homer's hero, Odysseus, once advised, "There is a time for many words, and there is a time for sleep."

As Homer’s hero, Odysseus, once advised, “There is a time for many words, and there is a time for sleep.”

Pharmacy students may want to take a leaf out of The Odyssey and strike a balance between lessons and sleep.

In a recent study published in American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, pharmacy students with lower GPA scores tended to have poorer sleep quality than their peers.

About 250 students participated in an anonymous survey that calculated each student’s Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), a measure for sleep habits within a month’s time. The survey was taken by first-, second-, and third-year students 1 day in the spring when they recently had 2 examinations and were facing another exam in the next 2 weeks.

The PSQI measures subjective sleep quality, latency, duration, and disturbances, as well as habitual sleep efficiency, use of sleep medication, and daytime dysfunction. The scores range from 0 to 21, with those ≤5 considered good sleep quality and anything above 5 considered poor sleep quality.

The researchers sought to explore the sleep quality of pharmacy students first and foremost, but also find out the kinds of associations that exist between sleep quality and other factors, such as gender, school year, and GPA.

About 75% of students in the lower bracket of GPA scores were rated as poor sleepers, compared with approximately 45% of students in the middle GPA bracket, and about 56% in the higher GPA category.

Of the 253 students, 47 self-reported having GPAs in the 2 to 2.99 range, 112 reported having a GPA of 3 to 3.49, and 89 had GPAs in the 3.5 to 4 range. The remaining students did not provide their GPA.

The only difference in terms of gender was that the male students had more difficulty with sleep duration than their female counterparts. In terms of class differences, third-year students had the lowest prevalence of poor sleepers.

In addition, more than half (55%) of students had poor sleep quality, as measured by a global PSQI score >5.

The study authors recommended educating students on the importance of sleep and the consequences of poor sleep quality at orientation or another venue, such as pharmacy school curricula.

“Our findings point to the need to address the sleep quality of our student body specifically, but the findings also compel us to recommend that other US pharmacy schools examine the sleep quality of their students,” the study authors concluded.