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College students in particular have chronically restricted sleep patterns and experience more daytime sleepiness, and physical and mental health issues than their same-aged peers who are not students. Sleep is an emerging area of research and intervention for occupational therapists. The purpose of this study was to identify and investigate how college student’s beliefs about sleep affect their quality of sleep. This study asked: how do beliefs and attitudes about sleep affect sleep quality and participation in valued occupations in college students? Four college students were interviewed regarding their sleep beliefs and attitudes. They also completed a two-week sleep diary to determine their general sleep beliefs and attitudes and daily behavior. The interviews were coded for themes and four emerging themes were identified: a) beliefs about sleep patterns related to temporal structure of sleep, b) the impact of stress on sleep, c) occupational performance in terms of performance in the occupation of sleep and performance in all other occupations (daytime performance), and d) conflicting beliefs about sleep. Sleep diary data revealed that participants’ idealized sleep beliefs are not consistent with actual behavior. From these themes researchers concluded that college students do not have well defined beliefs and attitudes about sleep or consistent, routine sleep schedules, leading to fair sleep quality and performance of daily occupations.


Occupational Therapy

Faculty Advisor

Susan Morris, Ph.D., OTR/L

Publication Date

Fall 2017


San Rafael, CA


Occupational Therapy

Sleep in College Students: A Mixed Methods Study