It’s late at night; you have your first test of the semester tomorrow, and you’re wildly unprepared. Your first thought may be to turn off your phone, chug a Red Bull and stay up all night studying, but this will actually work against you. All-nighters are often heralded as a normal part of the college experience, but they are not worth the hype.
In high school, it was uncommon for my friends and I to pull all-nighters, probably because high school students have more of a structured school schedule. Once I came to college, I noticed the people around me staying up much later. The way I see it, there are two main contributors to this.
First, college classes are at arbitrary times. In high school, everyone spent the same hours at school every day. In college, this isn’t the case.
This change means students have less consistent sleep schedules. Second, there is a lack of parental figures around to help encourage healthy sleep and study habits. When you come to college, you have to keep track of your eating, spending and study habits. Sometimes, healthy sleep habits slip through the cracks without a parental figure there to remind you. These factors work together to create an incessant cycle of sleepless nights.
As a junior at Northwest, I’ve had my fair share of tests and projects that tend to stack up, especially around midterms and finals weeks. However, the value of a good night’s sleep outweighs the value of an all-night cram session.
I often find that staying up later at night results in incredible fatigue and brain fog in the morning. My biology teacher can attest to this. Despite trying my hardest on 8 a.m. biology exams, I could not remember the majority of the information I’d studied.
This sleepiness and brain fog actually has a name — sleep deficiency. According to the NIH, sleep deficiency is a condition that presents itself when a person doesn’t get enough sleep, sleeps at the wrong time of day or gets poor-quality sleep. A study from the Auburn University School of Pharmacy cited excessive sleepiness, fatigue after waking up and exhaustion during classes as effects of sleep deficiency in teenagers.
If getting less than seven hours of sleep can lead to these negative effects, imagine the consequences of getting no sleep at all. In a study regarding these late-night sessions, 60% of university students who were interviewed admitted to pulling at least one all-nighter during their college career. This study also indicated a trend of poorer academic achievement among sleepless students, measured through their GPAs.
The common misconception about all-nighters is that the quantity of your studying is of utmost importance, but realistically, retention is what helps you ace a test. Your best bet is to spend a shorter amount of time doing more focused studying. With a couple of good study sessions and a healthy amount of sleep, you’re more likely to retain the information you spent time studying. Even taking 15 minutes a day to study is better than cramming for an all-nighter.
It is important to build healthy sleep habits so that you can be your most successful self — that means stop pulling all-nighters. The Auburn University study recommends at least seven hours of sleep a night for your well-being. That means next time you have a big test, make sure to put the textbooks down at a decent hour and get your beauty sleep.