It was the day of my midterm and I could no longer keep my eyes open. My body felt physically exhausted and my brain felt like lead. I knew pulling an all-nighter was a bad decision, but it didn’t stop me from drinking four espresso shots and finding a comfortable spot in the library to study.
In the grand scheme of things, the studying I did during my all-nighter was useless. Had I gotten a full 6-8 hours and studied days before, I would have felt better going into the exam. Instead, I walked into my exam red-eyed and sporting a horrible migraine. My mind was pulled in what felt like a million directions and I bombed the exam.
It’s that time in the semester where students’ to-do lists are longer than their grocery lists. During this time, students are cramming for multiple exams, pulling all-nighters and drinking coffee like its water. To keep up with demands, basic human needs are put on hold—especially sleep.
We all know that sleep is important but during this stressful period, it is easy to forget just how important it is. The stress of exams and the piling workload pushes students to put a hold on their sleep rather than using it as a tool for success. This is counterproductive to academic performance and students suffer for it. I know I did.
If you’re like me and procrastinate on practically everything, then pulling an all-nighter seems like second nature. You are familiar with the building anxiety of an exam and knowing that you need to study and have the false pretense that cramming before an exam is helpful.
Cramming before an exam and denying yourself sleep is actually counterproductive though. A report by the National Sleep Foundation found that there are many negative effects on the mind and body when we have night-long study sessions. The report explained that insufficient sleep is linked to several issues including depression, weight gain and memory loss.
In the same report, sleep deprivation is said to destroy cognitive function by distorting your memory. This leaves you susceptible to false memories, fogginess and forgetfulness. Sleep deprivation can also cause impaired concentration and problem-solving skills.
For students who want to succeed, sleep is key.
If you don’t believe me, a study reported in Science Daily found that students who get a full 8 hours of sleep actually do better on exams. In the study, students who crammed the night before without sleep did significantly worse than the students who studied throughout the semester and had a full night of sleep before the exam.
Getting sleep during this week is extremely important. It may seem counterproductive to sleep when you know that there is so much to do, but taking the time to get sleep will actually help you improve your scores and lower your stress levels.
During this week, it is important to remember that you are human and need sleep. Both to succeed and be healthy.
Madison Vialpando can be reached at Madisonvialpando@nevada.unr.edu or on Twitter @madisonvialpan2.