On counting sheep: The self-medication and coping strategies of university students suffering from primary insomnia

  • K Cockcroft
  • D Grasko
  • P Fridjhon


A factor that affects university students\' academic performance is the quantity and quality of their sleep. There is a high rate of insomnia in the general population, but the prevalence of sleep difficulties among university students has not been extensively studied. The current study found that 23 per cent of the researched student population may suffer from primary insomnia. The strategies used by these students to cope with insomnia were investigated by means of a self-report questionnaire, which examined two broad categories, namely self-medication and self-coping strategies. Students were found to employ potentially harmful coping strategies, while harmless strategies were not always perceived as helpful. Since the onset of insomnia is often during early adulthood, and since poor sleep impacts negatively on academic performance, this study indicates that education around this topic is vital for students.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 20 (5) 2006: pp.627-638

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eISSN: 1011-3487