As finals approach the hours of studying will be stretched longer and longer, cutting into our precious hours of sleep. The day or two before exam day will be especially stressful for those of us who tend to leave things to the last minute, but does that justify an all-nighter? Of all the tales of epic studying sessions few are raised to the level of the “all-nighter.” The night before an exam, buried by a mountain of un-memorized material, some are willing to lock themselves in the library for the night just to fit in everything. Blurry eye studiers stumble from their alcoves to their tests comforted by the fact that they studied all night. But, is this really the best strategy? I my opinion, no. Sure, go over the material, make sure you are at least aware of what is going to be on the test, but don’t sacrifice a few hours recuperative, calming sleep.
Better-Sleep-Better-Life.com identifies a few of the major benefits of sleep: It repairs your body, helps keep your heart healthy, and enables you to better regulate your body weight, but most importantly, it reduces your stress and improves retention. Personally, when I do badly on a test it is usually because I get stuck thinking about a problem in the incorrect way. The frustration builds to the point that I can no longer focus on the rest of the test and become overly absorbed in that one problem. Basically, I get stressed out. I am guessing I am not the only one who has experienced this scenario, therefore, why endure a sleepless night and make yourself more stressed prior to an exam? To counter this, one might say studying that extra amount makes you less stressed for the exam, but that brings up better sleep’s other point. Sleeping helps you remember things. You will actually remember the material you are studying better if you shut your eyes for a bit and let the connections in your brain grow. Perhaps it is best to lose the sleep and study if you really don’t know the material, but I find that this is never the case.
When it comes to homework and assignments, stay up and get it done, but when it comes to putting what you know down on an exam I will gladly sacrifice a few more hours of study to mentally prepare me to do so. An all-nighter simply isn’t worth it.
(Photo by susansimon under a Creative Commons license)