All Night Study Sessions Don’t Work
Got a big exam coming up? Are you planning to stay up the night before and study?
Think again. Research shows sleep plays an important role in our ability to retain information. Most of our organs can regenerate during rest periods, but our brain only regenerates during sleep – the different stages of sleep regenerate neurons within the cerebral cortex. When you deprive your brain of sleep, your normal functions suffer.
Humans need REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep – the stage of sleep during which we dream – to stimulate our memory and ability to learn. When you learn a new fact or skill, you don’t commit it to memory until you’ve slept for at least eight hours. Because sleep regenerates neurons, there is a limit to the amount of information a sleep-deprived person can maintain and recall.
Many students who regularly cram all night for an exam report feeling refreshed in the morning after only a short nap. Many sleep deprived individuals report better short-term memory than their well-rested friends. Recent studies by the University of California show the prefrontal cortex – the most active area of the brain – becomes even more active as a person remains active for long periods of time. This region of the brain regenerates during the first stage of sleep, which explains why you feel energized after a short “power nap”.
However, the negative effects far outweigh the positives. Sleep deprivations affects language processing – resulting in slurred speech and low cognition – terrible for language exams! Poor functioning in the frontal lobe of sleep-deprived individuals result in difficulties performing tasks requiring imagination and creativity. Sleep deprivation cripples your ability to think laterally and invent creative solutions to problems.
A sensible study schedule and a good night’s sleep before your exam will result in better marks than an all-night cramming session.
The Insomnia and Sleep Guide is a collaboration of authors who are constantly looking out for the latest information to do with insomnia and sleeping disorders. Whilst not experts on the matter they have each been affected by sleep disorders themselves or someone they know has. The Insomnia and Sleep Guide is kept up to date with regular articles as well as submitted for others to share and use.
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