Is it bad for your health to pull an all-nighter?

Posted on October 27, 2016

Photo: flickr

"Sleep deprivation's effect on working memory is staggering," said David Earnest, PhD, a professor with the Texas A&M College of Medicine who studies circadian rhythms (our 24-hour body clocks). "Your brain loses efficiency with each hour of sleep deprivation."

Most people need at least seven to eight hours of sleep at night for the body and brain to function normally. So, if you stay up all night, missing out on the recommended amount of sleep, your brain will be equally as weary - rendering a sharp decrease in performance for specific learning and memory tasks.

Let's face it, we only pull all-nighters when we’ve fallen behind and are trying to rapidly catch up on information or a project. But quickly trying to cram this information into our brains only uses short-term memory - and long-term memory is what we need to recall and retain most facts.

"When we try to learn information quickly, we’re only enabling short-term memory," Earnest said. "This memory type extinguishes rapidly. If you don't 're-use' information, it disappears within a period of a few minutes to a few hours. Cramming doesn't allow information to assimilate from short-term to long-term memory, which is important for performing well on a project or exam."

Remember Dory's short-term memory problems in Finding Nemo? That’s your brain on an all-nighter.

As the day wears on, the brain also becomes wearier. This daily rhythm in cognitive performance is controlled by our body clocks, and performance for learning and memory is higher during the morning and day, not late at night.

"As the day progresses into the night, the brain’s performance significantly decreases," Earnest said. "So, by studying all night, you’re essentially swimming upstream and fighting against your body's natural rhythms. Peak cognitive efficiency occurs much earlier in the day."

Instead of staying up all night, Earnest recommends studying as much as you can until bedtime and waking up early in the morning before a test to go over the material again. "Sleep rejuvenates by providing an opportunity for the metabolism, body and brain to slow down and recover," he said. "It's crucial that it’s not missed."

To read the full article, click on the link below.


Category(s):Academic Issues, Health / Illness / Medical Issues, Health Psychology, Sleep Disorders

Source material from Texas A


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