Zzz... Hard Working or Hardly Working?
How many of you associate studying with Redbull, coffee, or any other beverage just overflowing with caffeine? You must all have at least one friend who says something along the lines of, “Duuude I pulled an all-nighter last night; I even mixed Redbull with coke and coffee and I swear I could hear colours”. I can’t help but see such statements accompanied by red flags for two main reasons: 1) Getting no sleep surely can’t be something to brag about and 2) I don’t even have anything to say about the look-at-me-I’m-a-bartender quote. (Please, don’t try it at home).
Being sleep deprived may not be a big deal for you studious individuals out there, and it seems that a lot of us associate staying up longer with productivity – the notion seems to be that if one spends x hours studying, their grades should improve by y percent. In an ideal world, this would be true. However, welcome to reality, where the amount of input isn’t always proportional to the output.
There has been much research carried out on how lacking sleep can affect our cognitive abilities. For instance, without sufficient sleep, you’d be generally slower and less attentive. This could have dire consequences – imagine you were to cook yourself some instant noodles for a midnight snack (because, hey, we all need some comfort food while studying, am I right?), and you spill the pot. This may have happened because your attention wasn’t in check, or you may even fail to dodge the pot and might end up burning yourself! So how does this affect us while we’re studying? Well, if you’re tired and less attentive, you might take much longer to study compared to when you’re fully energized. What’s worse is if you end up missing the crucial parts of those endless chapters because you’re just too exhausted.
Also with sleep deprivation comes memory impairment – all those hours you spend staying up studying would be useless if the content isn’t even going into your head. Dr. Killgore, an expert on sleep, revealed that sleep deprivation particularly influences the “creative parts” of your brain, so if you’re a designer, the next big thing might not be around the corner without getting your beauty sleep. Dr. Pilcher, another researcher, and her colleagues found that lack of sleep can affect your mood as well – do you find yourself being crankier when you failed to get that extra ten minutes of sleep?
And wait, there’s more! Depriving yourself of sleep can make you more susceptible to obesity, which could then put you at risk for other health problems like heart disease. Your skin might even be affected – it is quite likely that your all-nighters are accompanied by junk foods that are unhealthy in of themselves, and the fact that you skip your beauty sleep means you’re disallowing yourself from rejuvenating overnight!
You might be thinking: Well if I don’t pull an all-nighter I am going to miss my deadline or fail my exam. What’s the take-home message, then? Start early! (I have a separate article on this – Forgetting to Remember and Remembering to Forget). Take it from my poor friend who missed his exam because his body shut down after his all-nighter – your body needs sleep. So if you are reading this article past midnight… Good night, start fresh tomorrow!
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.
About Moeka Komachi
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." - Maya Angelou