How sleep, stress and diet affect students' academic motivations

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Many students do not eat a healthy diet, do not meet recommended amounts of sleep, and experience high perceived stress. It is possible that students lose their sense of intrinsic (self-fulfilling) motivation as their biological needs are ignored for academic work. I tested the hypothesis that students who experience healthier sleep, stress and diet will have higher levels of intrinsic motivation, while students who experience unhealthier sleep, stress, and diet will have higher extrinsic motivation and amotivation. Eighty-one participants were recruited and asked to take the same survey twice in the semester, two weeks apart. The survey measured sleepiness, perceived stress, diet behavior, and academic motivation. A 3 (Motivation) x2 (Time) within subjects ANCOVA was used to analyze the relationship between the covariates (sleep, stress and diet) across the levels of motivation (intrinsic, extrinsic and amotivation) and time (week 9 and week 11 of the semester). The main finding was that there were no significant relationships between sleep, stress or diet across motivation or time. However, diet was marginally significant to motivation type and time together (p=0.062). Diet has a stronger effect than sleep and stress on student motivation over time, but none of these variables can be correlated to the change in motivation over time by themselves. The results found in this study show the importance of having more participants, and should the design be repeated with more participation, significant results may be found between Change in Diet and motivation over time. Extraneous variables caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as online schooling, social and athletic restrictions, and an increase in screen time could have influenced the data and participation of this study.
Thesis completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Alfred University Honors Program.
Honors thesis, Psychology, Academics, Motivation, Sleep, Stress, Diet, COVID-19