Episodic Memory Consolidation in College Students: The Impact of Chronic Sleep Restriction and Disruption

Jordan T Stiver, Fordham University


A significant portion of young adult college students obtain insufficient quantity and quality of sleep, highlighting the importance of understanding sleep’s impact on memory consolidation, a cognitive function critical for their daily functioning, well-being, and academic success. This study assessed whether actigraphic markers of poor sleep hygiene (i.e., chronic sleep restriction and sleep disruption) over 14 days predicted worse verbal episodic memory consolidation in young adult college students. Fifty-two young adult college students (Mage = 20.8, SD = 2.09; Meducation = 13.5, SD = 1.37; 26.9% male; 61.5% non-Hispanic white) wore an actigraphic monitoring device for approximately 14 days, which measured average total sleep time (TST) and sleep efficiency (SE). Verbal episodic memory consolidation was assessed using an adapted version of the Modified Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (aModRey). A series of separate linear regression analyses, controlling for appropriate demographics, were conducted to examine the relationships between sleep quantity and quality (i.e., TST and SE, respectively) and measures of memory consolidation. Results largely showed nonsignificant relationships between markers of poor sleep and memory consolidation (all ps > .05), with the exception of one significant relationship between SE and source memory consolidation in the opposite direction as expected, such that those with worse SE exhibited better consolidation. Future studies employing more nuanced operationalizations of sleep behavior that include an assessment of intraindividual variability in sleep quantity across nights and daytime napping will be valuable in addressing new research questions spurred by these unexpected findings.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Stiver, Jordan T, "Episodic Memory Consolidation in College Students: The Impact of Chronic Sleep Restriction and Disruption" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI22583703.