Sleep health, resources, stress, and academic performance: Comparing hospitality and non-hospitality undergraduate students

Chiang, Yu-Chih
Major Professor
Susan W. Arendt
Committee Member
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

In recent decades, there have been an increasing number of sleep studies in both science and social science. One explanation could be that sleep researchers’ focus has extended from sleep diseases to sleep health; this has expanded study populations beyond “unhealthy” patients to healthy people. In parallel, brain scientists have connected sleep with cognitive and emotional function, which intensified the discussion of sleep issues in daily life. Existing literature suggests a linkage between sleep and performance, but relative evidence is not solid. In particular, hospitality students’ sleep health should be studied given the potential impact of program requirements and industry work characteristics; however, relative topics have not been widely studied in hospitality research.

The primary purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between sleep health and academic performance using the conservation of resource theory. The secondary purpose was to determine whether hospitality students differ from non-hospitality students with respect to sleep health and academic performance. This study consisted of two-phases. In Phase I, secondary data of 73,214 responses were received from a national higher education association and analyzed using correlations. In Phase II, primary data of 817 responses were collected from six U.S. universities using a self-report online questionnaire and analyzed using ANOVA and structural equation modeling.

In Phase I, findings confirmed that, over the past 10 years, stress and sleep difficulties were the top two health issues impacting academic performance from undergraduates’ perspectives. In Phase II, results presented a positive but weak influence of sleep health on academic performance. The results also indicated that poor sleep health was related to sleep aid usage, caffeinated beverage consumption, and long work hours. Finally, hospitality student employees’ sleep health score was slightly lower than the average sleep health score of non-hospitality student employees.

In conclusion, sleep health seems not to be a direct predictor of academic performance, but it is associated with students’ academic success and individual health. To assist hospitality students in balancing their sleep health, study, and work, it is important that both administrators and managers understand the importance of sleep and show willingness to cooperate with one other.