Weekly Wellness

Weekly Wellness

by Laura Dillavou

With the pressure of finals coming up, your brain and body are already stressed out. One thing that students need to avoid during this time of number crunching and fact memorization is lack of sleep.

Contrary to many college stories, pulling an all-nighter is not the way to ace those tests. While it may seem like all the extra studying you can cram in will help, it will in fact, do more harm. According to two separate studies, one at the University of Chicago and one at Harvard Medical School, when college-age students got the recommended amount of sleep (seven to eight hours) the night before a test, they performed better and remembered things more accurately than those who stayed up all night or got little sleep.

The brain needs sleep in order to sort and organize memories and information from the day. While you may not recall a math formula at 2 a.m., the next morning when you wake up, you may find that it came to you during the night. Memories are consolidated and then stored in pieces, like saving information on a computer’s hard drive, researchers from Harvard Medical School say. Some memories and information are lost during the day, but then recalled through a night of sleep.

To most college students, sleep has taken a back seat to multiple activities, work and video games. The body can only maintain its inner balance for about two days when it has been thrown off by an all-nighter.

So say you spent all night Sunday studying for your finals; Monday would be ok, by Tuesday, your body feels tired, run down and chances are, you are rather crabby, and by Wednesday, the body is running on empty and is bound for a hard night’s sleep.

In addition to getting plenty of restful sleep, it is important to lay off stimulants like caffeine and nicotine when preparing for a test. Eating, especially breakfast, will jump start your body and brain, giving it that extra edge when it comes to class. Obviously, avoiding alcohol the night before a big test is a smart choice, period.

Since everyone knows when their finals are taking place, it is a smart idea to start studying in small doses, keeping in sync with your body’s normal sleep patterns. Keeping your daily routine consistent, like working out, taking a little nap in the afternoon, etc., is also important.

In preschool, they gave us naptime for a reason. Not only is it a relief for the teachers, but it also allows children to take a break, regroup, and when they wake up, they are energized and can think more clearly. The same applies to college students. A short nap, no more than one and a half hours many be just what your body needs to bounce back from writing an exhaustive essay.

Just as everyone needs a proper diet, the brain needs adequate sleep. Keeping a routine will also help to maintain your sleep schedule during those important final days of the semester. While staying up all night might sound like a good idea, just remember how good it feels to wake up, fresh renewed and smarter! So get some sleep… and good luck on those finals!