A sleep specialist has claimed that loss of sleep due to all-night study sessions to prepare for final exams actually work against students striving to perform well.
Dr. Philip Alapat, medical director, Harris Health Sleep Disorders Center, and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, recommends students to instead study throughout the semester, set up study sessions in the evening and get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before exams.
"Memory recall and ability to maintain concentration are much improved when an individual is rested," Alapat said.
"By preparing early and being able to better recall what you have studied, your ability to perform well on exams is increased," he said.
While college-aged students ideally should get 8-9 hours of sleep a night, truth is that most generally get much less.
"Any prolonged sleep deprivation will affect your mood, energy level and ability to focus, concentrate and learn, which directly affects your academic performance," Alapat said.
Throw in the occasional all-nighter, consumption of caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea or energy drinks, and students are at risk for developing insomnia, as well as increased risks for alcohol abuse and motor vehicle accidents.
"A lot of college students graduate high school and leave the protective family environment where they have curfews or set bed times," Alapat said.
"In college, they don't have these guidelines for sleep and recognize that they can stay up late. This likely contributes to the sleep deprivation seen commonly in college students," he said.
Alapat recommends students to get 8-9 hours of sleep nightly especially before final exams, study during periods of optimal brain function (usually around 6-8 p.m.), avoid studying in early afternoons (usually the time of least alertness), avoid overuse caffeinated drinks and recognize that chronic sleep deprivation may contribute to development of long-term diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.