All-Nighters: Are They Even Worth It?

  • George Demopoulos

It all comes down to this. You have less than 12 hours to complete your big assignment or cram for an exam. Maybe you had other things going on that prevented you from working on this before tonight. Or maybe you’re in the depths of an epic 6-day Halo binge. Either way, you don’t have much time to get ready. So, you decide to pull an all-nighter. But in reality, are all-nighters even worth it? We’re going to put the topic to bed once and for all in this post.

Are All-Nighters Helpful or Harmful?

At its core, an all-nighter is essentially a form of voluntary sleep deprivation. After a full 24 hours without sleep, your body will begin to experience side effects. One of those is significant mental decline. According to the National Sleep Foundation, after a full 24 hours without sleep, your brain will function at about the same level as when you have a .10 BAC.

This ends up triggering a number of specific results. For example, you’ll experience reduced mental place keeping, meaning that you’ll have more difficulty following step-by-step instructions. Your memory will also degrade, and your brain will also be at a higher risk of creating false memories. That’s not exactly what you want to be doing when you’re cramming for an exam.

Finally, sleep deprivation can cause a phenomenon called microsleeps. A microsleep occurs when you doze off uncontrollably during the daytime. This can be a huge problem if you need to drive or operate heavy machinery – or stay awake during an exam.

Photo Courtesy of Marco Verch Professional Photographer

All-Nighters: Are They Even Worth It?

With all that information in mind, let’s revisit our initial question. Is pulling an all-nighter even worth it? Ultimately, there’s no line in the sand for this question. If you absolutely, positively need to finish a task, you don’t really have much of a choice. But if you do need to pull an all-nighter, just make sure you have plenty of time set aside the next day to catch up on sleep.

If you find yourself in the situation where you are pulling an all-nighter, at least you should eat well! Check out our article on the best study snacks you can have.

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