With yoga studios, events, and classes cropping up all over, the yoga frenzy shows no signs of slowing down. But will going through the motions really serve as a heart-pumping workout?
Up All Night: Just How Bad Are All-Nighters?
There are seemingly endless reasons to pull an all-nighter: exams, finalizing an important pitch to clients, a birthday bar crawl, trying to earn more experience points in Farmville. Both college and the “real world” have their fair share of sleepless nights. While crankiness and moodiness are tell-tale signs of no sleep, research suggests a surprising plus to staying up: short-term euphoria (the body’s natural high).
Not Enough Time In The Day — Why It Matters
Using MRI to study 27 young adults, researchers found participants who pulled an all-nighter experienced (short-lived) bouts of euphoria and heightened positive feelings. But it's not all lollipops and double rainbows.
While any lack of sleep causes a boost in dopamine (the neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and happiness) levels, it can also potentially lead to risky behavior due to a surge of overly optimistic emotions. It turns out lack of sleep switches the brain from rational-based decision making to the emotionally charged fight-or-flight mode. This may not seem like a huge deal for college students (that’s just another Friday night frat party), but for doctors, pilots, accountants, or lawyers it may be a serious side effect to consider.
Yet sleep deprivation is no laughing matter. One study showed that lack of sleep impairs cognitive performance, knowledge retention, and awareness .
No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn — The Answer/Debate
Although some studies have found sleep deprivation to be beneficial in severely depressed patients, nearly any positive effects wear off after a nap . As for studies that champion the pros of foregoing sleep? Well, there aren’t any.
So, will one night of sleeplessness cause a lifetime of drowsiness? No, a good night’s rest will restore the body, but just don’t go for that fifth Red Bull on a daily basis. Long-term dangers of all-nighters include a reduced learning ability and increased likelihood of anxiety disorders . Other potential hazards include weight gain, an increased risk of diabetes, and potential brain damage.
Despite the dangers, pulling an all-nighter is a choice that many time-crunched people make. Even the most dedicated night owls should consider taking a break to sleep (even if it's just for a couple hours) to re-charge the body's batteries and reduce one’s overall sleep debt. Don't be surprised if productivity improves as well; a rested brain is good for business (or that final paper).
Do you still pull all-nighters? What are your secrets for staying productive late at night?
Originally posted April 2011. Updated April 2012.
- Circadian and wakefulness-sleep modulation and cognition in humans. Wright, KP., Lowry CA., Lebourgeois, MK. Department of Integrative Physiology, Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 2012;5:50⤴
- Sleep deprivation and subsequent sleep phase advance stabilizes the positive effect of sleep deprivation in depressive episodes. Albert R., Merz A., Schubert J., Ebert D. Psychiatrische Universitätsklinik mit Poliklinik, Erlangen. Der Nervenarzt. 1998; 69(1): 66-69.⤴
- Overnight Therapy? The Role of Sleep in Emotional Brain Processing. Els van der Helm, Walker MP. Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley California. Psychological Bulletin 2009 Sept; 135(5): 731–748.⤴
Comments Leave a comment
huh. might help explain some of my questionable decisions post-no sleep
Really informative! I cannot go very long without sleep but I know of some friends who definitely need to read this article. Frequently pulling all nighters is not good for your health.
I unfottunately chose to attend a college that had a quarter system class scheduling system. My major was a Master's Degree in Architecture. The problem with the quarter system scheduling is that class periods are 2.5 hours long and studio class periods are 5 hours long. If you have a class and a studio class back to back you are in class all day. Now you only have an evening left to do your class work. If that evening is not enough time, then you have to start pulling late nighters or worse all nighters.
In my case, I average 10 all-nighters per quarter for 3 years. So, I did at least 90 all-nighters in 3 years since there are 3 quarters per academic year. Several times, I did all-nighters back to back. So, I probably did more than 90 all-nighters. The architecture classroom building was open 24 hours 7 days a week. A quarter is only 10 weeks long verses a 15 week semester system. I managed to graduate with a 3.72 overall and a 4.0 my final year in graduate level classes. I never wasted time at college. I never went to a single party either. I worked at my projects relentlessly.
My conclusion is DON'T EVER ATTEND A QUARTER SYSTEM COLLEGE. All of the all-nighters that I did still affects me to this day. Now, my body usually needs at least 8 hours a sleep at night. If I don't get 8 hours of sleep at night I have a very difficult time getting a wake in the morning. I have been late to work a few times. Who ever thought that a quarter system college was a good idea is wrong. It is a fundamentally flawed educational system.
During my undergraduate degree, I attended a semester system college and only had to do 1 all-nighter. This is because class periods are typically only 1 hour long. So, you can have 3 classes a day in only be in class for 3 hours total. The rest of the day you can do your class work.