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How to Survive an All Nighter. Don't Do It

Exam season is just around the corner. And so is the end of term and the impending feeling of a three week long Christmas holiday.

Unfortunately, this combination can be more than distracting as the festivities tempt you into spending  your days with friends and family rather than in a cold, dark corner of the library. Alone.

With this in mind it can be tempting to stay up all night in a bid to finish coursework and commit facts and figures to memory. However, all-nighters rarely lead to an automatic A; in fact, they can significantly impact your health. Let us explain…

The Importance of Sleep

Establishing a regular sleep pattern is important to ensure a healthy you. However, the lure of spending the nights socialising, cramming for exams, and then sleeping for a few hours here and there is often too compelling for students. But doing so can lead to deprived sleeping patterns and therefore implications on your health.

Playing a vital role in good health and mental well-being, the National Institute of Health suggests the average adult requires between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night.  Whilst everyone’s individual sleep needs vary and some are able to function on less sleep, your body will work to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.

6 Surprising Effects of an All-Nighter

Whilst it may seem like cramming or staying up all night to finish a project is a great idea, we can assure you that it isn’t. In fact, all-nighters have been linked to impaired cognitive performance and a greater sensitivity to stress among a host of other consequences such as:

  1. Memory Difficulties

Why would you stay up all night cramming for an exam? In a bid to take in more information and remember all of the facts and figures that might be required in the exam.

However, pulling an all-nighter won’t help you here.

When you sleep, a part of your brain called the Hippocampus replays what you have learnt that day. This process helps you encode the things you have learnt into your long-term memory. If you don’t sleep, your long-term memory is affected and everything you thought you had memorised, you are likely to forget.

  1. You Won’t Be Able to Function

Your brain uses molecules called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to help burn fuel. Staying awake for long periods of time means that your brain becomes less and less efficient at burning energy.

  1. Affected Immune System

Do you really want another round of a Fresher Flu type illness? No, we didn’t think so.

Your immune system produces protective cytokines and infection-fighting antibodies and cells whilst you are sleeping. These will fight foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses and gives the immune system more energy to defend against illness.

Lack of sleep means that you’ll no longer be able to fend off foreign bodies and it will likely take you longer to recover from illness.

  1. Bad Judgement

With similar effects as point number 3 a lack of energy can negatively encroach on your daily live.

With minimal sleep, your brain is less efficient at burning energy. This can affect your prefrontal cortex which is ultimately responsible for good judgment and making smart decisions.  Certainly not what you want when leaving the house to undertake an exam on little, or no, sleep.

  1. Weight Gain

Lack of sleep, as if it hadn’t affected enough already, will alter two very important hormones.

Ghrelin, which tells us when to eat and Leptin, which us tells us when to stop eating, as you can imagine are essential to maintaining a healthy body weight. However, sleep deprivation means that our bodies produce more ghrelin and less Leptin making you more likely to grab another bag of crisps at 3 in the morning.

  1. Decline in Athletic Performance

Hoping to win the University football league or another trophy for your sporting collection before the term ends? Well, you’ll unlikely be player of the month if you don’t get enough sleep.

The effects of minimal sleep can be detrimental for athletes who need plenty of rest to ensure top performance. The main source of energy for an athlete is glucose and glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the muscles and the liver as an energy reserve that quickly supplies glucose. Lack of sleep can slow this process to around 30-40% meaning that endurance levels are affected.

Additionally, lack of sleep can increase levels of the stress hormone Cortisol which is linked to reducing tissue recovery and therefore can impair recovery time for athletes.

Improve Your Revision Techniques

Ensuring a work/life balance is key and may be the answer to helping you ace the new year exams, hand-ins, and dissertations.

You might be better off establishing a timetable so that you can effectively manage all of your activities; create to do lists and set realistic targets for each day; study with friends; or decide to reward yourself with each milestone achieved.

If you’re in need of a little help our team have comprised a list of top 10 tips to help improve your revision techniques. Why not have a read here {link to previous blog post}?

More Help and Information

The effects of sleep deprivation we have outlined above is by no means exhaustive, there are a host of negative effects all-nighters have on your body.

If you’re looking for accommodation for the next academic year already, give the team a call on 0117 930 8750 for more information regarding all of our student properties.



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