Pulling an all-nighter, sadly, has become a common practice among students and young professionals. There's a widespread impression that achieving more tasks is a key to success. During exams week, millions of students from everywhere drown themselves in coffee or energy drink and study all night. But do you really know the cost of an all-nighter? Dr. David Earnest, a professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, warned that the brain loses efficiency with every hour of lost sleep. “By studying all night, you're essentially swimming upstream and fighting against your body's natural rhythms,” he said.
What are the effects of losing sleep? How can you address sleeping problems and improve the quality of your life?
Poor learning and memory performance[caption id="attachment_110749" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
How long can you go without sleep? In 2012, a 26-year-old Chinese man reportedly died after staying awake for 11 days. The reports suggested that he was drinking alcohol and smoking while binging the European Cup, thus the sleep deprivation couldn't be blamed entirely for his death. No one has died because of lack of sleep alone. It's the impact of sleep deprivation on the brain and body that you should be mindful of.
Dr. David Earnest, who studies circadian rhythms, said that staying up all night to study for an exam is counter-productive because it doesn't allow information to retain in the long-term memory. Failing to sleep for seven to nine hours at night makes the brain and body weary, decreasing one's performance in learning and memory tasks.
Instead of pulling an all-nighter, Dr. Earnest recommended studying for 20 to 30 minutes for multiple times in a day, several days before an test. “By going through information numerous times, you're allowing your brain to move those facts to long-term memory for better recall.”
Feeling more stressed and emotional[caption id="attachment_110747" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Staying up all night can cause poor behavior and trouble with relationships because of mood swings. A study by the University of Pennsylvania researchers found that participants who slept for only 4.5 hours each night for a week reported feeling more stressed, and emotionally and mentally exhausted. The participants' mood dramatically improved when they resumed their normal sleep.
Are you having sleep problems? Insomnia is commonly characterized as difficulty falling or staying asleep. However, this sleep disorder has other symptoms such as feeling tired in the morning after a non-restorative sleep. You may also be suffering from insomnia if you're having mood swings, finding it tough to get along with others and experiences anxiety.
Improve your sleep by creating a conducive sleeping environment. You can declutter your room, buy a comfortable mattress, and drown out outdoor noise. If you're living in a busy neighborhood, you can soundproof your bedroom with double-pane windows or noise reduction shades. A white noise machine can also help you fall and stay sleep at night.
Impairs concentration and puts one's safety at risk[caption id="attachment_110748" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Pulling an all-nighter can put your safety at risk. The Harvard Medical School said that one sleepless night can impair your performance as much as a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 percent. The legal blood alcohol concentration limit in the US is 0.8%. Drowsy driving causes 1 million accidents and 8,000 deaths each year in the US.
Difficulties sleeping may be due to a medical condition. The common medical causes associated with sleep problems include diabetes, heart ailments, kidney disease, and musculoskeletal disorders. You may also be suffering from neurological disorders or respiratory problems. If you've been sleep deprived for more than a week, you should consider visiting a doctor.
Achieve seven to nine hours of quality sleep on a quality mattress. The Uratex Premium collection offers mattresses recommended by the Philippine Orthopaedic Association. The Orthocare Balance features a firm-feel foam that promotes proper spine alignment and Tencel knitted fabric that ensures a refreshingly cool atmosphere while you sleep. The Premium Touch Sublime is made of layers of natural latex and memory foam that relieves pressure points and body pains. It features pocket coil springs that minimize motion transfer and tossing and turning while sleeping.
Higher risk of serious diseases and mortality[caption id="attachment_110750" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Regularly pulling an all-nighter can lead to serious health problems. Studies show that missing two to three hours of sleep at night can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and weaker immune function. Sleep deprivation can even shorten your lifespan. Several studies suggest that sleeping for less than 6 hours per night may raise mortality risk by 15%. “Major restorative functions in the body such as tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis occur almost exclusively during sleep,” according to the Harvard Medical School.
Getting a good night's sleep is easy if you commit yourself to it. Do a few lifestyle changes. First, stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even during weekends. You can adopt a bedtime ritual to help trigger sleepiness. Try drinking hot chamomile tea or milk an hour before going to bed. Second, regulate your caffeine intake. Caffeine stays in the bloodstream for 6 hours, so avoid it after 4 p.m. Third, be more cautious with your diet. The foods that can disrupt your sleep include those high in fat and protein, spicy foods and natural diuretics. Eat light at night. Finally, don't do vigorous exercise too late in the day. This can overstimulate your senses and keep you awake all night.
Just because everyone is staying up all night before a major exam means you should too. Pulling an all-nighter have adverse effects to your health, mood, performance, and safety. Sleep deprivation, even for one night, can decrease your learning and memory performance and put your safety in peril due to reduced focus. It can also make you feel more stressed and irritable, alienating you from others. In the long-term, insufficient sleep can raise your risk of hypertension, heart ailments and other serious conditions. If you think skipping sleep is harmless, think again.