When in college, there will inevitably come a time when you feel the need to stay up all night to finish a term paper or cram for an exam. While most people think it’s just a rite of passage, and the only thing that could go wrong is subsequent yawning and dark circles under your eyes the next day, think again. There are some serious things lack of sleep can do to your body and mind. So next time the urge to stay up round the clock sets in, fight it off and go with proper time management!
Staying up all night can actually make you gain weight, believe it or not! Lack of sleep can mess with certain hormones in your body that tell you when it’s time to eat, and when it’s time to stop eating. This, coupled with the fact that nearly no one picks healthy snack options when eating and studying, can be big contributing factors to the dreaded freshman 15. It can also lead to digestive problems, and can affect the way your body handles glucose (simple sugar).
Sleep deprivation leads to exhaustion. When you don’t sleep, you’re tired. Simple enough. But being sleepy the next day can be more than just a pesky inconvenience or an occupational hazard. Being too tired can affect your motor skills, and how your brain functions. It can mess with your ability to, say, operate heavy machinery (aka driving!) or make intelligent choices.
It can also have the reverse effect on your studies. If you stay up too late studying for an exam the night before, you’re going to be too tired to think and process properly, and remember the information you crammed into your brain. Ergo, you won’t do very well on the test that you were so worried about. It affects your concentration and memory, and your decision making skills, making everything from multiple choice questions to short answer essays much more difficult to excel at.
You could also potentially mess up your sleep schedule. If you get in a habit of staying up too late, you won’t be able to get to sleep at a normal time later when you don’t have three papers to write and a quiz to study for.
Sleep deprivation can cause serious mood swings and affect social skills as well. Being well rested gives us the tools necessary to look objectively at things – bad grades, roommate drama, etc. – that might otherwise cause us to act irrationally or fly off the handle. And if you’re doing that all the time, your friends probably aren’t going to want to be around you very much. It also affects the way we perceive other people’s emotions, so you could be reading a social situation the entirely wrong way, causing some awkward moments.
Consistently pulling all-nighters can seriously weaken your immune system as well, causing you to be much more susceptible to those pesky cold and flu symptoms spreading like wildfire this season. There’s a reason why you sleep a lot when you’re sick; sleep is healing and restorative, and helps fight anything not quite right in your system. Depriving your body of a solid eight hours is like inviting all the germs in for a house party.
So next time you feel completely swamped, take a deep breath, get a good night’s sleep, and you’ll feel much better about it in the morning!