By: Jessie Napkora, Staff Writer
It’s that time of the semester! Classes are ending, finals are beginning, and students are spending countless hours studying. In the end, this means that students are getting little to no sleep. Many students use this “pulling an all-nighter” method of studying, but is it really worth it? Does it work? Let’s turn to BU psychology professor, Dr. Marion Mason to find out.
In her classes, Mason tells of the many negative consequences of not getting enough sleep, which include both physical and mental effects. This is especially devastating to college students during finals week because they must be at their best when taking a test. Mason also informs that a lack of sleep adversely affects one’s ability to concentrate, as well as to remember and recall information. It even affects one’s ability to guess well.
How much sleep should a student be getting for finals? Well, according to Saundra K. Ciccarelli and J. Noland White, authors of Psychology third edition (2012), young adults should sleep at least 7-9 hours in a 24 hour period. If you can’t seem to fit in this many hours, you should at least follow a healthy sleep schedule. “It’s best if you can go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, even if you can’t get at least 7 hours.” She explained this as conditioning, “You will get sleepy and wake up naturally. Eventually, you won’t even need an alarm.”
During finals week, if you are unable to get the recommended dose of sleep and must spend most of the night studying, Mason recommends studying in intervals and taking a few power naps in between. This should only be used as a last resort though, because she also cautions that studying straight through the night causes the body to become exhausted and the memory to become overwhelmed. “You can only get so much into your long term memory. That’s why if you study things quickly and all at once, information starts to run together,” informs Mason.
Her additional studying and sleep tips are: follow a sleep schedule, avoid disrupting the body’s natural sleep cycle with alcohol or pills, stay in dim lighting before bed time, and sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room. Mason also recommends adding some variety to your studying habits by studying one thing for an hour, then moving onto different material for another hour. Also, move to different locations while you study to help stay alert. If you find yourself sleepy while studying you may not fully take in the material and will probably start to zone out. To counteract this, Dr. Mason suggests interacting with your work by reading out loud, rewriting your notes, and quizzing yourself after studying a short section of material.
All students should consider the benefits of sleep, especially during finals. Dr. Mason brings up a good point when she says, “I think we underestimate the power of sleep. We take it for granted.” The bottom line is, don’t fight sleep. It is essential for your well-being and success as a student. Students should take into consideration the advice of Dr. Mason and “Think of your brain as your primary tool during finals. Sleep is what keeps that tool as sharp as it can be.”