Stress and Amount of Sleep (Okay... and BE STILL!)

This topic submitted by Liz Weisbecker, Sarah Peterson, Matt Dudzik, Becky Singson ( at 3:30 pm on 12/6/01. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Wagner

Stress and Amount of Sleep
Okay…and BE STILL!
Liz Weisbecker, Matt Dudzik,
Becky Singson, and Sarah Peterson
Does the amount of sleep a person gets have any affect on a person’s stress level? The purpose of this lab was to answer that question. Using blood pressure as a measure of stress, the blood pressure of 8 people was taken to determine if there are any trends between low amounts of sleep and high stress. This experiment also compared the blood pressures and amount of sleep of Western majors and Architecture majors. The hypothesis was that people with less sleep will have higher levels of stress, and that architecture majors would make up the majority of the people with high stress. The experiment pertains to college students, and therefore is very relevant because the researchers and the subjects are all college students. After collecting all of the data, the data was plotted on graphs and analyzed to determine whether or not our hypothesis is proven correct. The results showed no correlation between blood pressure levels, or stress, and the amount of sleep a person received. Therefore our results were inconclusive and our hypothesis was proven wrong.

The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether sleep has an affect on stress level, assuming blood pressure is an accurate measure of stress. The study will focus on whether there are any differences in stress levels of Architecture students and Western students at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. The hypothesis is that a person who has little sleep (probably due to heavy school work load) will be more stressed, and therefore will have higher blood pressure than those who get more sleep. The null hypothesis is that there is no statistical difference between the two groups (Western majors and Architecture majors). It is also believed that Architecture students probably have a higher stress level and therefore higher blood pressure than Western majors due to a more demanding curriculum. Here is a sample of the workload of a Western major and that of Architecture major:
Western Major
Work Approximate time to complete task Actual amount completed (in hours)
Read book for CC, answer response question 5 hrs. 2 hrs.
Read chapter for SS 1.5 hrs. 1.5 hrs.
Read IT and post response hr. hr.
Read NS 2 hr. 1 hr.
Spanish workbook hr. hr.
TOTALS 9.75 hrs. 5.75 hrs.
*CC= Creativity and Culture, SS= Social Systems, IT= Interdisciplinary Technology, NS= Natural Systems

Architecture Major
Work Approximate time to complete task Actual amount completed (in hours)
Read book for CC, answer response question 5 hrs. 2 hrs.
Read chapter for SS 1.5 hrs. 1.5 hrs.
Read NS 2 hr. 1 hr.
Graphic Media- portfolio drawings, color renderings 4.5 hrs. 1hr.
Studio- Model 6 hrs. 2 hrs.
TOTALS 19 hrs. 7.5 hrs.

The blood pressure of the same group of four architecture students and four Western students will be measured on randomly selected days of the week. Each individual has a different “normal blood pressure.” To address this, we will compare each individual’s fluctuations in blood pressure and the amount of sleep the person has .
After doing this experiment, the relationship between stress level and the amount of sleep a person gets will be better understood.
This project is of interest because the researchers are students and students are the subjects being tested. This research should be interesting because many have noted that architecture students seem to have a heavier workload, that architecture students have very high levels of stress because of this.
While blood pressure is specific to each individual, there are distinct “normal” levels. Blood pressure is measured with two numbers, systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is blood being pumped through the veins by contractions of the heart causing pressure against the walls of veins. Diastolic pressure is when the heart relaxes between beats and blood pressure decreases (Instruction Manual 1998).
The normal level for systolic pressure, (the top number in a blood pressure reading) is 140 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). The normal level for diastolic pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) is 90 mmHg. Borderline hypertension is a systolic pressure between 140 and 160 mmHg or a diastolic pressure between 90 and 95 mmHg. Hypertensive blood pressure is anything above a systolic pressure of 160 mmHg pressure and a diastolic pressure of 95 mmHg pressure (Instruction Manual 1998).

After extensive research, studies done on the relationship between sleep and stress were not found. However, a direct correlation between blood pressure and stress levels was found (Stress Power 1978; Stress and It’s Relationship to Heath and Illness 1982).
According to a stress management study done by Indiana University, increased blood pressure and changes in sleep pattern are indicators that one may be experiencing stress (Stress Management 2001). Many other sources say that stress has been found to lead to high blood pressure . Also, when recommending how to treat hypertension, researchers say learning to manage stress is a major help (Blood Pressure 2001). Two studies confirm that people under high stress at work have higher blood pressure, but their blood pressure returns to normal levels once away from the office (Stress Increases Blood Pressure 2001). This is applicable to the project because being on a job is equivalent to being in the architecture studio. People with more demanding jobs showed higher blood pressure when at work, which is the prediction for this experiment, that architecture students, who have more demanding work than the Western majors, will have higher stress.
While researching blood pressure and stress, it was found that there is a difference between physical stress and emotional stress. This project is strictly focusing on emotional stress (Does Stress Really Cause Heart Disease, 2001).

Materials and Methods
In order to collect a set of data, the blood pressure of a consistent group of 8 people was taken 10 times, each time on a random day during the course of three weeks. Four of these students were Architecture majors, and four were Western majors. An electronic blood pressure monitor was used to measure both the systolic and diastolic blood pressures. While the blood pressure was being taken, those being tested were asked how many hours of sleep they had gotten the previous night. When this data was obtained, all 10 of an individual’s systolic blood pressures were plotted against the amount of sleep on a graph. Another graph for the individual’s diastolic blood pressure and amount of sleep will be made, and these graphs were placed next to each other. Doing this for each person allowed the fluctuation in the graphs to be observed (to compare to the hypothesis), as each individual had a “normal” range for blood pressure. After conclusions had been made about each individual, the graphs were separated into two groups: Architecture majors and Western majors. Then the two different groups were compared to see if there is any difference. The data was analyzed by looking at where the higher blood pressures fall in respect to the hours of sleep.
When the lab was presented to the class, the students served as the “control” group, since there were a mix of Architecture and Western majors. The blood pressures of everyone in the class was taken for one day only to see if the class followed the predicted trend that people with less sleep would have higher blood pressure. The class plotted the blood pressures as well as amount of sleep on one set of two (systolic and diastolic) graphs, using the same strategy as specified above. Then the class was asked to compare these graphs with the graphs designated “Architecture” and “Western” groups and analyzed the data.

9/24/01- Took blood pressure of 10 people
9/27/01- “ “ “ “ “ “
10/1/01- “ “ “ “ “ “
10/2/01- “ “ “ “ “ “
10/3/01- “ “ “ “ “ “
10/4/01- “ “ “ “ “ “
10/8/01- “ “ “ “ “ “
10/16/01- “ “ “ “ “ “
10/21/01- “ “ “ “ “ “
10/22/01- “ “ “ “ “ “
11/15/01- Take blood pressure of NS class and have class graph blood pressures
11/29/01- Analyze Data


1. Take blood pressure and document the number of hours of sleep from previous night on the data sheet.
2. Plot two graphs for the class using the following variables (When plotting the amount of sleep use the following intervals: zero to four hours, four to 9 hours, and 9 hours or more):
a. Systolic blood pressure vs. amount of sleep
b. Diastolic Blood pressure vs. amount of sleep
3. Compare data to the given hypothesis.
4. Separate the data by majors: Architecture or Western.
5. Plot the following graphs:
a. Systolic blood pressure of architecture majors vs. amount of sleep of architecture majors
b. Systolic blood pressure of western majors vs. amount of sleep of western majors
6. Analyze the graphs to see if the data follows the hypothesis.

Here is the raw data collected during the experiment (also see attached graphs):

Liz, Architecture Major
Date Sleep Blood Pressure
9/4/01 7.5 103/79
9/27/01 8.75 110/86
10/1/01 4 119/97
10/2/01 10 109/82
10/3/01 8 119/79
10/4/01 9 114/64
10/8/01 9 117/76
10/16/01 8.5 108/59
10/21/01 8.5 114/71
10/22/01 9 106/78

Matt, Architecture Major
Date Sleep Blood Pressure
9/4/01 5 143/96
9/27/01 10 136/96
10/1/01 7.5 110/78
10/2/01 10 145/93
10/3/01 7.5 127/89
10/4/01 9.5 109/83
10/8/01 8 124/93
10/16/01 9.5 117/90
10/21/01 6 112/81
10/22/01 11 125/82

Becky, Western Major
Date Sleep Blood Pressure
9/4/01 6.5 134/77
9/27/01 4.5 120/72
10/1/01 5 122/82
10/2/01 7 123/73
10/3/01 5.5 114/72
10/4/01 5.5 113/67
10/8/01 4.5 120/72
10/16/01 7 118/64
10/21/01 6 110/71
10/22/01 6.5 138/75

Sarah, Architecture Major
Date Sleep Blood Pressure
9/4/01 6.5 106/72
9/27/01 8.5 83/69
10/1/01 5 108/75
10/2/01 8 95/76
10/4/01 8 89/60
10/8/01 7 116/84
10/16/01 5 87/66
10/21/01 5.5 94/64
10/22/01 9.5 93/58

Audrey, Western Major
Date Sleep Blood Pressure
9/4/01 7 103/86
9/27/01 6 103/68
10/1/01 6 129/87
10/2/01 7 110/71
10/3/01 8 97/76
10/8/01 6 120/99
10/16/01 7 110/67
10/21/01 7.5 104/65
10/22/01 5 109/77

Chris, Architecture Major
Date Sleep Blood Pressure
9/4/01 1.5 145/96
10/2/01 8 143/93
10/3/01 7.5 133/83
10/8/01 8 105/77
10/16/01 5.5 137/74
10/22/01 7.5 137/84

Katie, Western Major
Date Sleep Blood Pressure
9/4/01 7.5 115/89
9/27/01 8 132/90
10/1/01 6.5 121/88
10/2/01 8 122/85
10/3/01 6 123/90
10/8/01 7.5 126/83
10/16/01 8.5 117/87
10/21/01 6 113/80
10/22/01 8 111/78

Josh, Western Major
Date Sleep Blood Pressure
9/4/01 7.5 100/83
9/27/01 7 127/72
10/1/01 7 120/85
10/2/01 9 113/74
10/3/01 4 111/93
10/8/01 8 113/82
10/22/01 8.5 131/74

Class Data, 11/15/01
Name Major Hrs. of Sleep Blood Pressure
Lisa Western 6.5 113/60
Don Western 8 127/68
Ashley Western 7 113/65
Cherie Professor 9 115/84
Jen Architecture 5.5 93/70
Brian Architecture 8 129/78
Kristen Architecture 6 105/72
Codie Architecture 5.5 101/73
Diane Western 5.5 122/103
Sarah Architecture 8.5 93/71
Matt Architecture 8 120/80
Becky Western 6 116/73
Liz Architecture 8.5 109/68

Discussion and Conclusions
In the Materials and Methods section, it was decided that each individual’s data would be examined first.
Liz’s blood pressure patterns were inconclusive because the amount of sleep she got did not relate to her blood pressure level. Her blood pressure fluctuated a lot, but her sleep remained within the same range.
Matt’s blood pressure patterns were also inconclusive because his blood pressure fluctuated and so did the amount of sleep he received, however there was no significant correlation between the data points.
Becky’s graph was also inconclusive because the points were scattered all over the graph, therefore there was no correlation.
Like Becky’s, the point on Sarah’s graph were also scattered so much that there was no correlation between the points.
The points on Audrey’s graph were randomly scattered and showed no pattern, therefore was deemed inconclusive.
Chris’ graph also showed no significant pattern, hence was had inconclusive results.
Katie’s graphs had no correlation between the hours of sleep and her blood pressure patterns, therefore was considered inconclusive.
Josh’s graph showed no correlation between the hours of sleep and his blood pressure, therefore was also considered inconclusive.
After analyzing the control group’s data, it was found that there was no correlation between the amount of sleep each person received and their stress level. Because of this, no comparison could be made between the control group versus the individuals that were tested over a period of weeks. Therefore there was no general pattern found between amount of sleep and stress levels.
After examining the individual’s data, all cases were found to be inconclusive, therefore no distinction can be made between the stress levels of Architecture majors and Western majors.
After this experiment, the only conclusion that was determined was that stress levels and sleep really have nothing to do with each other. This is because blood pressure levels are unique from person to person, and change in blood pressure levels can be due to many things, such as exercise, weight, heredity, or heart conditions.
Some things that could have been done differently would have been to found a group of people who have similar physical characteristics and examined them during periods of stress. Another idea would be to clone people and put them into different situations and see how the clones react. Perhaps taking blood pressures over a longer period of time or at specific times each night would have improved this lab also. Another thing that might have helped during this lab could have been to take blood pressures when there is a huge project due for either the Architecture majors or Western majors, and then compared to that data to blood pressures during periods of lighter workload.
This lab proved the null hypothesis to be true: that there is no statistical correlation between blood pressure and amount of sleep, and also there is no statistical difference between data for Architecture majors and Western majors.

Works Cited

Anderson, Robert. Stress Power! New York: Human Sciences Press, 1978.

Bieliauskas, Linas. Stress and It’s Relationship to Health and Illness. Boulder,
Colorado: Westview Press, 1982.

Blood Pressure. Online. Internet. 25 Sept. 2001.

Does Stress Really Cause Heart Disease? Online. Internet. 25 Sept. 2001. stress.

Instruction Manual: Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor. Vernon Hills, Illinois: Omron
Healthcare, Inc., 1998.

Marx, Jean. Stress: Role in Hypertension Debated. Science, New Series. Volume 198,
Issue 4320. 2 Dec 1977.

Stress Increases Blood Pressure, Causes Stroke. Online. Internet. 25 Sept. 2001.

Stress Management. Online. Internet. 25 Sept. 2001.

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