The impact of insufficient sleep and early class start times on U.S. Air Force Academy cadet health and performance
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Date of Graduation
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of Graduate Psychology
Emerging adults face a set of unique obstacles that combine to make getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night a challenge. Internally, adolescents and young adults have a biologically based tendency to go to sleep and wake up later. Externally, they may participate in scheduled activities that wake them up early or keep them awake late. One primary obligation that can contribute to short sleep duration in students is early class start times. Emerging adults attending a civilian college may benefit from the ability to set their bedtimes and class schedule. However, their same-aged peers attending a military institution face much stricter environmental control over their daily schedules and activities. This study assessed the impact of insufficient sleep and early wake-up times in samples of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy from 2005-2007 by taking advantage of archival data systematically recorded within official databases and changes in class start times over that period. The study investigated the effect of early class start times on cadets' academic performance, health, and physical performance. Early class start times were predicted to negatively impact cadet health, academic, and physical performance, while later class start times were predicted to positively impact these outcomes. However, there were mixed results for the benefits of delayed class start times and the detriments of early class start times for all the outcome measures. Overall, class start time did not affect the performance or health outcomes as expected. The limited nature of the dataset could not take into account the impact of age, experience, or program requirements and expectations on cadet performance and health. The need for future research on insufficient sleep in the cadet population is discussed.
Osborn, Stephanie, "The impact of insufficient sleep and early class start times on U.S. Air Force Academy cadet health and performance" (2021). Masters Theses, 2020-current. 166.