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Why Sacrificing Sleep for Late Night Study Sessions Is Bad for Students, and What to Do Instead

It’s final exam season, and for most college students, that means a lot of late-night cramming and very little sleep.

To keep their energy up, many students will be reaching for one, several, or all of the energy-boosting products that are at their disposal. But while the rush they get from coffee, energy drinks, Ritalin, or any other kind of tablets can be exhilarating, the inevitable crash that follows only hampers their overall productivity and can lead to sleep deprivation and to serious health issues and even death.

But there’s another reason to resist pulling all-nighters: they simply don’t work. As UCLA professor of psychiatry Andrew J. Fuligni has reported in the past, sacrificing sleep for late-night study sessions is counterproductive. Not only does memory retention tend to require consistent study schedules over time, but sleep deprivation can also lead to lower test performance. Our bodies simply require adequate sleep to function at their fullest. The journal Scientific Reports also found that students who didn’t maintain a regular sleep schedule were more likely to perform poorly in class compared to those who did.

But why stay on the negative side? On the other hand, if you do sleep well, you will also do better in your exams. Studies show that students who get a good night’s sleep perform better academically. Research conducted by the University of Georgia found that one in four students surveyed reported that sleep deprivation negatively impacted their grades and in some cases, resulted in the need to withdraw from a course entirely. A good night’s rest will also lower your risk of obesity and other health problems, improve your performance, your memory, and your mood.

Of course, that may be of little consolation to today’s busy students trying to keep up with demanding classes, work, and extracurricular campus schedules.

Education and sleep deprivation tend to go hand in hand. So what can you do?

The good news is there are less harmful ways to stretch the waking hour with less sleep and more productive study habits:

(1) Go natural: Dr. Oz says eating oat straw extract, Rhodiola, no-bake energy bars and kiwi are a great way to give you a rush of energy without bringing you down later.

(2) Take a power-nap: Short-term power naps of 20-30 minutes can have enormous benefits if you’re feeling tired and need a quick lift.

(3) Experiment with different study schedules: Instead of long late-night sessions, try getting up early when you’ve got more energy or studying in short bursts throughout the day. This may help keep your attention levels up, providing you with more productive studying and higher test results. When you find what works best for you – stick to it.

(4) Take more productive breaks: Video games can chew up more time than intended. TV can make you sleepy. Instead, try getting some fresh air with a quick walk or talk with a friend. You can also Meditate, listen to some upbeat music, or have a healthy snack.

(5) Eat right, exercise, and sleep: It really is that simple. Remember, your brain is a bodily organ, and when it comes to peak performance, healthy bodies work harder and do better than the unhealthy ones.

(6) Create a space that maximizes sleep: Avoid hanging-out in bed during the day. Arrange your bedroom or dorm room into three zones – one for sleeping, one for relaxing, and one for studying. This will help keep the bed associated only with sleeping.

(7) Shut off all electronics before bed: The blue light emitted from electronics tricks your brain into thinking it’s day time and your body decreases the amount of melatonin it secretes, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Turn on the blue light filter on your phone or tablet for a few hours before you go to sleep. This includes not falling asleep while your tv is on.

(8) Sleep improvement app: We’ve developed tools to make it easier and more affordable than ever to train yourself to get a good night’s sleep. Now, studying is up to you.

Sleeprate offers a sleep solution in the form of an app that works with or without a connected wearable, providing professional-grade features that help you gain insights about your sleep, control your sleep habits, improve your sleep quality, and feel better during the day.
Based on CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia) state-of-the-art practices, the first-line recommended treatment for insomnia and other sleep deficiencies, Sleeprate is the most comprehensive digital sleep improvement program available today.

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