All-Nighters Can Hurt Your Grades

You’ve probably always been told that the later you stay up to study and the less sleep that you get, the more damaging effects it may have on you the following day, and now, a new study conducted by a group of college students in New York finally have the facts to prove it. The study concludes that students who never stay up to study all night have slightly higher grades than those who make it a habit to pull all-nighters, according to an article posted in the Education section on MSNBC.com.

The survey, conducted on 120 students at St. Lawrence University (a small liberal arts college in New York) found that students who have never pulled an all-nighter on average had higher grades than those who have. According to the survey, those who do not stay up and study all night had an average grade point average of 3.2, while those students who do pull all-nighters to study had a grade point average of a 2.95. Psychology professor Pamela Thatcher, who headed the study and is a regular sleep researcher, commented on how she knows people can not think clearly at 4 a.m., even if they think that they can. The study will be published in a future issue of Behavioral Sleep Medicine.

A second study by Thatcher yielded primarily the same results, showing that those who slept less hours at night have lower grades in general.  The fact that many college students have irregular sleep patterns is no surprise due to many reasons, including poor time management and drinking excessive amounts of caffeine during the day and at night. To many students, even those not involved in the studies, the findings surely make sense. One student, who wasn’t involved in the study, said he had been pulling a few all-nighters to prepare for organic chemistry exams and that he had trouble remembering the material he studied around 4 or 5 a.m. He added that many students are under the impression that they are accomplishing a lot of work by drinking caffeine and staying up all night, but it’s a misconception.

To Dr. Howard Weiss, a physician at St. Peter’s Sleep Center in Albany, the results from the study definitely make sense. He said that lack of sleep will certainly interfere with concentration and on performance on objective testing. He also noted that some night owls do get good grades, but that could be explained by circadian rhythms, which could be tracked through body temperature and hormonal transmissions. Weiss said that some people have different 24-hour body clocks than others and that it may mean that they do better depending on the times that tests are being taken.

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