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College Majors Reveal People’s Sleeping Preferences

Update Date: Jun 08, 2013 01:07 PM EDT
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The phrase 'I am not a morning person,' gets spoken quite frequently during college. Although students might not like waking up in the morning due to reasons such as partying or late night studying, a research study suggests that the difference between morning people and night owls has more to do with one's personality as opposed to one's activities. In this study, researchers tied sleeping preferences to personalities based on students' college majors.

This study, conducted by research students from Pennsylvania State University, surveyed 1,200 college juniors and seniors. Within this sample set, there were 30 majors represented. The participants were given a questionnaire that asked them for information regarding their sleeping patterns and preferences when it came to waking up early or staying up at night. From this sample, the researchers recorded 492 students that finished the entire survey and provided substantial data.

Based from these answers, the researchers found several correlations. First, they found that people who were Nutrition majors tended to prefer the mornings, whereas people who studied Management Science and Information Systems or Administration of Justice were night owls. Second, the researchers found that Media majors were the most sleep-deprived group of students, getting just three to 3.6 fewer hours of sleep than they would prefer. On the other end, people who majored in Speech Communication were less likely to report being sleep-deprived. Although these findings are correlations and they do not provide a cause and effect relationship between people's personalities and the majors they choose, the researchers believe that these findings reveal a lot about how people work and how productive they are depending on their sleeping preferences.

"A mismatch of job time and biological time, as well as intolerance to partial sleep loss, can negatively influence peak job and school performance. It can become a stressor and increase on-the job errors or accidents," Frederick M Brown, Ph.D. reasoned according to Huffington Post. "Not only that, individuals who show strong aptitude for certain professions may be dissuaded from pursuing them in favor of following their preferred morning vs. evening active routine. In addition, they may become dissuaded if university time-of-day scheduling of coursework in those majors is in conflict with their biologically suitable times of day."

The research study was presented at the SLEEP annual 2013 meeting. 

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