We’ve all been there; we have an assignment due, or we have a presentation at work in the morning, but you’re not ready for it. So, what do you do? You stay up all night so you can make sure that it’s completed. Simple in theory, rather than tossing and turning, stressing about the unfinished task at hand, you can get it out of the way and delay sleep for a little while. Harmless, right? Wrong. Here is why you should avoid all-nighters at all costs, and instead, catch the snooze train on your mattress.
Did You Know?
In 1964, teenager Randy Gardner stayed awake for a staggering 11 days and 24 minutes. Now, this isn’t pulling a typical all-nighter, but it certainly taught psychologists and neuroscientists a lot about sleep deprivation and its effect on the body. Suffering mood changes, paranoia and hallucinations, his memory and concentration levels faltered after a couple of days of sleep deprivation. After two very long sleeps over the course of a couple of days, he appeared to have suffered from no side effects and fully recovered. This experiment was carefully monitored, noting down the amazing changes that your body experiences with a lack of sleep.
What does sleep deprivation do to your body?
Cortisol is the stress hormone. Studies have shown that sleep loss elevates cortisol levels, the next evening, leaving you stressed out and pretty much in bad shape. If you’re working on a deadline, your cortisol levels are already elevated, so why would you want to increase that level of stress by avoiding sleep? You’re honestly doing more harm than good with that one.
Lowers Your Immune System
With less sleep comes a lower immune system. Every day, we cause wear and tear to our bodies, whether it be from exercise, stress or even just going about our daily business. With this wear and tear on our bodies, it’s imperative that sleep is utilised to restore this damage done to the body. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re simply inviting the wear and tear to stay in your body, which gives you no time to repair itself. With this, the body has to try and work harder to keep itself healthy, meaning the immune system is in overdrive, thus lowering it. So, if you’re skipping sleep, you may end up getting yourself sick, which won’t help you at all.
Stress and anxiety aside, did you know that a lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain? Yep; ghrelin, the hunger hormone, goes into overdrive when you’re sleep-deprived. Studies have suggested that a single night of sleep deprivation can increase ghrelin levels in a normal-weight healthy man. As you lose sleep, you feel the need to gain energy as fast as possible, which most people find in junk food. As junk food is typically high GI, it gives you the boost of energy that you crave, but it often has a lot of fat, so it can cause weight gain.
What does sleep deprivation do to your brain?
With Increased Cortisol Comes More Anxiety and Stress
As previously stated, sleep deprivation elevates levels of cortisol, so it increases your stress levels. If you often find yourself suffering from anxiety, sleep deprivation can increase your anxiety levels and can even trigger panic attacks. This is thrown into the bowl of stress that has already been accumulated from the reason why you’re pulling an all-nighter, so you’re just increasing levels of stress, rather than depleting them.
Lower Chance of Recalling Information
If you’re cramming for a test, and you’re pulling an all-nighter to reach that goal, I hate to break it to you. It isn’t going to work to your advantage. In fact, studies have shown that you will remember more if you cram some information and then go to sleep, instead of trying to cram it all and avoid sleep so you can learn more.
Sleep is so important, especially if you’re trying to succeed in something academically. Your body relies on sleep, so why would you deny your body of that right? Grab your comfy quilt, hit the books, then sleep. Not only will your body and brain thank you, but so will your grades!