The night life on weeknights

March 19th, 2009

College students are notorious for staying up late trying to balance their busy schedules. It seems like there is never enough time in the day to get everything done and find time for sleep.

John Carroll University is no exception to this phenomenon, as students often sacrifice sleep in order to finish all of their responsibilities. You can find plenty of people in the library all the way until closing time, and there are always a couple of students getting their reading done outside the Inn Between even after night has become morning.Junior Aaron Yantko is the quintessential example of the sleep-deprived student.

He’s used to staying up all night to do homework multiple times in one week. “Pulling all-nighters has become second nature at this point,” he said.Yantko is well-practiced at the all-nighter, but he recognizes that it can’t be done without caution.“Not sleeping for 24 hours is like giving blood,” he said. “You can do it more than once, but there are rules you need to follow, otherwise you’ll crash.”Janet Larsen, chair of the Pyschology Department, agrees there are negative effects to skipping sleep.

Besides making a student less able to perform well in class due to tiredness, not getting sleep can actually affect how well you retain information learned in class and while studying.“You learn and remember better when rested,” she said. “There is research that strongly suggests that consolidation of learning happens during sleep.”Yantko said he ends up staying up so late because he procrastinates with his homework. “If I start working on homework that would keep me up until 3 a.m. anyway, and I have an 8 a.m. class, then I just stay up. I don’t trust myself to wake up to my alarm at that point,” he said.His late night habits have caused him to sleep through his alarm a few times in the past, and he has ended up missing class after going to sleep early in the morning. “Fear has become a motivator,” he said.

While that method has worked for Yantko, Larsen counters that some sleep is better than no sleep.“Sleep is very useful for the brain; there are chemical things going on during sleep that need to happen. Getting enough sleep is an important aspect of being a successful student,” she said.She added that research suggests those who get more sleep have better memories and are better at more complex tasks.

Yantko says that he drinks 5-Hour Energy and double shot espressos, especially when studying or working on something that doesn’t interest him.“Study breaks help, but you need to do something that you like during them, for me it’s playing video games.”Yantko said he makes up for his all-nighters by sleeping-in on the weekend.“I usually catch up on sleep missed during the week by getting more sleep on Saturday. I’ll sleep until the afternoon sometimes,” he said.While he knows that it may not be the best thing for his body, Yantko said that his method works for him.

Larsen, however, pointed out that maintaining a stable pattern of sleep is much better than getting an inconsistent number of hours.“You’re much better off having a regular pattern of sleep. Making up for it on the weekend just means that you’re not getting enough sleep during the week,” she said.

“If you can’t wake up without an alarm clock, then you’re not getting enough sleep.”Students might find it hard to change their routines and stick to a consistent sleep schedule, but the evidence shows that it will benefit learning in the long run.

When deciding whether or not to stay up and cram for that test, you should sleep on it.