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Pulling all-nighters may be dumbing students down

Pulling an all-nighter could be more harmful than students think, and their GPA could be taking a big hit for it.

“Staying up all night is a maladaptive strategy for academic success.

“You’re better off actually getting a good night sleep,” said Katherine Rasmussen, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance.

Inderjit Deol, third-year SAIT accounting student, said he typically gets about three to four hours of sleep each night, and because of his busy schedule he very rarely gets more than six hours of sleep.

“If I get more than six hours I get a headache, because I’m so used to running on empty,” he said.

According to Rasmussen, students who sleep less than the recommended seven to nine hours each night are more susceptible to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and confusion.

“They’ve done studies, and they’ve found that the kids who pulled the all-nighters didn’t do as well as the college students who went to bed at 11 p.m. and got a good night sleep,” said Rasmussen.

The first sign of chronic sleep deprivation is a disruption in mood and daytime energy, followed by an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety.

In order to avoid these effects, Rasmussen recommends regular bed, rise, meal, and exercise times every day.

“Routine is really the essence of sleep.

“When we go out of routine, our bodies go under stress,” she said.

Student works into the night, with only a computer illuminating the darkness.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Photo by Rorie Stannard

Adults react the same as little kids do when they’ve missed their nap or regular meal time, but adults are “just better at hiding it,” she added.

Students should also get off of their devices at least two hours before bedtime, said Rasmussen, because too much screen time can really disrupt sleep.

It may also be beneficial for students to get exposure to morning sunlight, which enables the body’s natural circadian rhythm to help regulate their system.

Lastly, Rasmussen suggests that a power nap of under 30 minutes at least eight hours before bedtime could be “very therapeutic.”

“People often nap too late in the day, or they nap for like three hours, and that can really disrupt their sleep process.”

Most people do napping in the wrong way, said Rasmussen, but a short nap could enhance creativity, memory, cognitive function, and could help athletes to recover from strenuous training.

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