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Determining which Sleeping Aid is most Effective for Improving the Academic, Social, and

Emotional Performance of UTEP Students through trials using Sleeping Pills and Light Therapy

Juan Hernandez

80573048

April 14th, 2017

1 Hernandez, J.
Abstract

Negative cognitive performance is in direct correlation with poor sleep quality. Academic,

Social, and Emotional performance are affected by the amount of and quality of sleep a person

gets, which is shown in figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Consequences of altered rhythm


(Salgado-Delgado, R., Osorio, A. Saderi, N.,

Escobar, C., (2011) Disruption of Circadian

Rhythms: A Crucial Factor in the Etiology of

Depression.)

The National Sleep Foundation states,

Forty-five percent of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities

at least once in the past seven days. (2014) Lack of sleep is exponentially on the rise and the

negative effects of sleep deprivation on a persons health is not emphasized enough. My team

wants to determine which form of sleeping aid is most effective at helping UTEP students

improve their quality of life. Our two forms of therapy were Sleeping Pills and Light therapy.

The rationale is if a students sleeping habits are improved, so can daily performance.

Conducting this project, will require recruitment of a group of 150 UTEP students, 75 male and

75 female who have insomnia that is not related to respiratory issues. The subjects will divide

into three groups: The experiment will run two months. The control is, in month one all the

groups will record their sleep/wake times without any form of therapy. Month two: Group 1 will

use a prescribed amount of sleeping pills. Group 2 will be assigned Light Therapy to help reset

their Circadian rhythm; and Group 3 will not have any sleeping aids. (Another control) Sleeping

and waking times will be recorded, along with how the person is feeling emotionally that day.

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Introduction

Sleep deprivation increases the amount of errors made and reduces a persons cognitive

performance when they are completing their day to day activities. (Stanojevic, C., Simic, S.,

Milutinovic, D., 2016) The hindrance of lack of sleep has many ill effects and symptoms. As

shown, before in figure 1. These consequences consist of altered emotional state, metabolic

irregularities, and a vulnerable immune system. These changes in a persons state might seem

small, but they have a significant impact on that persons life. (National Sleep Foundation.,

2014)

Lack of sleep is a hindrance that is exponentially increasing worldwide. It does not only

affect the person who is sleep deprived but it affects everyone around them. For Example, in an

article from the Current Health Sciences Journal. Registered nurses who were sleep deprived had

less sleep quality than those who were not. The study also states, that sleep deprivation created

an increase in errors of registered nurses working the night shift. (Ramadan, M., Al-Saleh, K.,

2014) Not only does a lack of sleep have an affect people working their jobs as shown before. It

also has an obvious effect on students in the classroom. As shown in the abstract in the Journal

of Psychiatric Research article, Sleep quality has significant effects on cognitive performance

and is influenced by multiple factors such as stress. (Ahrberg, K., Dresler, M., Niedermaier, S.,

Steiger, A., Genzel, L., 2012)

The data behind these articles implies that there is a large problem a hand here. Most

people out there, including college students are not getting enough qualitative sleep. Which

brings about the research question. What form of sleeping therapy is the most effective for

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helping people improve the quality of their life? If a more effective therapy was determined the

data could help society assist its citizens by emphasizing the importance of the Circadian

Rhythm and keeping it on a healthy pattern. (Salgado-Delgado, R., Osorio, A., Saderi, N.,

Escobar, C., 2011) Before conducting the experiment, my group anticipated that out of our two

therapies being used. (Light Therapy vs. Sleeping Pills) That the most effective one for

improving the quality of life of the subjects would be Light Therapy. This is because it would

help reset the Circadian Rhythm of the person back to a healthy pattern; and thus, improving

their mood, academic performance, and all other cognitive functions. However, the quick and

effective effects of sleeping pills were not counted out of the picture.

Materials and Methods

First, we need to recruit 150 students from the University of Texas at El Paso who are

suffering with insomnia that is not linked to respiratory issues. This is because Respiratory

issues can be linked to many things that do not correlate with our experiment. Such as obesity,

metabolic disorders, and respiratory diseases. (Piper, A., 2013)

The experiment will take place over the course of two months. There will a total of 150

participants. (This is to make sure the sample size is large enough.) 75 men and 75 women.

(They will be paid a stipend to compensate them for their time and effort.) The intention behind

this is that we want a large sample size so that our data is more credible. Also, we want both

genders of sex to be involved just in case that will have any impact on our experiment for

whatever reason. However, women involved cannot be pregnant or plan to become pregnant

because we do not want anything to throw off our results. It would not present a danger to the

mother or baby if they were to become pregnant because sleeping pills are not dangerous to

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pregnant women; but we cannot risk it throwing off the results and would have dismiss the

woman from the experiment without pay.

Once everything is set with the recruits they will be broken up into three groups. Each of

these groups will take an assigned form of therapy for two months. All the groups will not be

taking any form of sleep aid for the first month. They will only log their sleeping times and sleep

quality in a journal. This is so that we have a baseline to compare their data from the next month.

Starting on month two, Group 1 will be taking the amount of sleeping pills daily that was

individually prescribed by our Doctor. This is to make sure that the subject does not take too

little or too much dosage of the pill. Group 2 will be using Light Therapy (Which will consist of

slowly dimming the lights in the subjects room until it is completely dark. This task will be done

by an automated LED lamp with a built in light dimmer/brightener alarm clock.) and Group

three will take no form of sleeping aids. This separation allows us to have an ethical and constant

form of data. The subjects will not have to go through any kind of withdrawal with the pills.

Group 1 and 2 are our experimental groups; and Group 3 is our control because they will not be

taking any form of therapy during the study. Throughout the two months all three groups will be

recording their sleeping/waking times and the quality of sleep they had. In order to help our data

be more accurate our group will conduct a weekly check in/inspection of journal. If the

participants do not show up or submit their paper via email; They will be dismissed, taken out of

the studies data and will not receive any compensation. Participation from the subjects is

mandatory or they will be dismissed without pay. After the two months are finished the subjects

will be paid and the data will be recorded and given to the National Sleep Foundation because of

the influence they have in communities.

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Expected Outcomes

As of all our prior investigations into the correlation that cognitive function is

directly affected by the amount of qualitative sleep acquired we anticipate one thing. Along with

many other negative consequences, the disruption of the Circadian Rhythm explicitly causes

Sleep Deprivation. When a persons internal clock is thrown out of order, whether it be through

stress, work or even something that is out of the persons hand there is a decrease in that

subjects quality of life. (Salgado-Delgado, R., Osorio, A., Saderi, N., Escobar, C., 2011)

With the prior information we realized the importance of our anticipated results. We

expect that both forms of sleeping aids that will be applied will be effective. However, we

theorize that the one therapy that will be effective and also improve the quality of life will be the

Light Therapy. Which is shown with a clinical trial, when they treated depressed pregnant

women with Light Therapy (Bais, B., Kamperman, A., van der Zwaag, M., Bijma, H., Liverse,

R., Hoogendijk, W., Lambregtse-van den Berg, Mijke. 2016) This is because the human

circadian rhythm is affected by the amount of light around the subject. A high amount of light

will keep the subject alert and awake versus a decreasing amount of light that will increasingly

make the person tired/sleepy. (Zhang, J., Qiao, W., Wen J., Julius, T. 2016) Bright light arouses

the hypothalamus located in the brain and robs the subject of sleep. On the other hand, without

light the Hypothalamus is not aroused and the subject starts to feel sleepy. (Bougars, C.,

Moussay, S., Espie, S., Davenne, D. 2016)

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We anticipate that the results will be interpreted by the conclusion that Light Therapy is

more effective than sleeping pills and its long-term benefits cannot be matched. However, on the

chance that sleeping pills prove to be more effective than Light Therapy we anticipate that the

data could be used to help motivate researchers to invest time and help progress the treatment of

Light Therapy. Also, the same research could be used to help raise awareness for the need of

trials and studies on the effectiveness of sleeping pills. (Moser, M., Kripke, D. 2013)

Potential Pitfalls and Future Directions

As with any experiment, there are potential obstacles that can appear. In my groups trial,

we did find some potential flaws/complications that could happen. First off, what would happen

if participants dont comply or just dont record their sleeping times and the other paperwork? To

address this our group will conduct a weekly check in/inspection of journal. If the participants do

not show up or submit their paper via email; They will be dismissed, taken out of the studies data

and will not receive any compensation. The next issue would be, if a subject has a negative

reaction with either forms of therapy. If this does occur the subject will have known to report it

to our doctor. Then he will determine if its life threating or damaging; If it is then the subject will

be pulled from the study and taken to go receive treatment.

The methods I have stated in Methods and Materials are our first-hand pick on how to

conduct our trial. However, we fully understand that things dont always work out the way you

want them to. If we are unable to get the Sleeping pills then we will have the subjects take a

recommended dose of a Benadryl or Tylenol, to get the antihistamines in their system and help

them fall asleep. For the light therapy side of it, if we are unable to provide the special lamps,

then we will have the participants shut of all lights, put their phone away, record their times and

go to sleep.

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This study has a lot of data that can be interpreted in different ways. My group believes

that this data can lead to further studies of how the circadian clock can be used to a persons

advantage. Which can help improve the quality of life for everyone in society. Also, studies that

can help improve the effects of Sleeping Pills and light therapy so that the negative side effects

are miniscule.

8 Hernandez, J.
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