All-Nighters and Other College Sleeping Myths
Side effects include:
- heart disease
No, these are not documented side effects from consuming too much candy on Halloween. And no, this is not a new FDA-mandated warning label that will appear on cans of the controversial energy drink Four Loko. Rather these are the some of the long-term side effects stemming from lack of sleep.
Lack of sleep is a hot topic amongst students. Most will acknowledge that they do not get enough of it on a nightly basis. Others will boast about their productivity during a late night study session and rave about their exam performance.
Fortunately, there are guys like Dr. Michael J. Breus to set the record straight. He’s done a ton of research on collegiate sleeping habits and its affect on performance in the classroom and on the pitch. And the statistics he cites are not too dreamy. Apparently only 11 percent of American college students report that they sleep well.
If that’s bad enough, consider the commonly held beliefs about the effectiveness of all night study sessions and the impact of sleep on athletic performance.
In the eyes of most college students, pulling an all-nighter is necessary for writing papers at the last minute or ensuring full comprehension of those oh-so-difficult Latin names of muscles for an upcoming Kinesiology exam. While pulling an all-nighter makes more sense when trying to accomplish the former, studies show that this is not case when completing tasks of the latter variety.
In fact, Dr. Breus cites a study from Harvard professor Dr. Robert Stickgold who has noted that the most critical period for sleep and memory consolidation is right after the acquisition of this new information. Thus, pulling an all-nighter is counter-intuitive to helping students retain information at the last minute. Big surprise!
And for the collegiate athlete who thinks that sleep before game day is a joke, sleep on this: Research shows that lack of sleep also impacts basic athletic function. For example, lack of sleep is known to impact free-throw shooting in basketball and serve accuracy in tennis. Consider this theory the next time your favorite NBA player is struggling from the charity stripe.
So, whether you are cramming at the last minute for that 300-level physics course final or practicing your free-throw form into the wee hours of the morning, if you want to get that “A” on that exam or “W” for your team respectively, you better get your zzzzzzzzzzzzs.