Effectiveness of sleep education programs to improve sleep hygiene and/or sleep quality in college students: a systematic review

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Sleep health is essential for overall health, quality of life and safety. Researchers have found a reduction in the average hours of sleep among college students. Poor sleep has been associated with deficits in attention, reduction in academic performance, impaired driving, risk-taking behaviors, depression, impaired social relationships and poorer health. College students may have limited knowledge about sleep hygiene and the behaviors that supports sleep health, which may lead to poor sleep hygiene behavior.


To identify, appraise and synthesize the best available evidence on the effectiveness of sleep education programs in improving sleep hygiene knowledge, sleep hygiene behavior and/or sleep quality versus traditional strategies.

Inclusion criteria Types of participants

All undergraduate or graduate college students, male or female, 18 years and older and of any culture or ethnicity.

Types of interventions

Formal sleep education programs that included a curriculum on sleep hygiene behavior. Educational delivery methods that took place throughout the participants’ college experience and included a variety of delivery methods.

Types of studies

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental studies.


Sleep hygiene knowledge, sleep hygiene behavior and/or sleep quality.

Search strategy

Literature including published and unpublished studies in the English language from January 1, 1980 through August 17, 2015. A search of CINAHL, CENTRAL, EMBASE, Academic Search Complete, PsychINFO, Healthsource: Nursing/Academic edition, ProQuest Central, PubMed and ERIC were conducted using identified keywords and indexed terms. A gray literature search was also performed.

Methodological quality

Quantitative papers were assessed by two reviewers using critical appraisal instruments from the Joanna Briggs Institute Meta-Analysis of Statistics Assessment and Review Instrument (JBI-MAStARI).

Data extraction

Data were extracted using the JBI-MAStARI data extraction tool. Data extracted included interventions, populations, study methods and outcomes of significance to the review question and objectives.

Data synthesis

Meta-analysis was not possible due to limited studies and variability of design and interventions; therefore, results are presented in narrative form.


This systematic review yielded three RCTs and one quasi-experimental study for inclusion. Two studies reported outcomes on sleep hygiene knowledge; one showing a statistically significant improvement (P = 0.025) and the other reported no difference (test of significance not provided). Two studies reported on sleep hygiene behavior; one showing no difference (P > 0.05) and the other reporting a statistically significant improvement (P = 0.0001). Four studies reported on sleep quality; three reporting no difference (P > 0.05) and the other reporting a statistically significant improvement (P = 0.017).


This reviewed article identified insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of sleep education on sleep hygiene knowledge, sleep hygiene behavior or sleep quality in this population.

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