Posted by: lindseychristine | December 2, 2009

So You’re Going to Pull an All-Nighter…

Although college students may not want to believe it, it’s indeed that time of year again, finals. Yes, that much despised F word. Exams are just weeks away, final papers and project deadlines are creeping closer, and then of course there’s holiday shopping to get done with the little free time in between it all. There’s no doubt it’s crunch time! Although minds may be set on the joys of winter break and the holidays, the clock’s tickin’ and the to-do list must be worked on. College students may spend hours studying and getting homework done in the library or in their dorms or apartments, but that does not always cut it.

Sometimes students must resort to pulling all-nighters when times are hectic to accomplish one or many assignments or to study for an exam. However, a study conducted in January 2007 by Pamela Thacher, a St. Lawrence University Assistant Professor of Psychology and clinical psychologist, concluded “…students who have never pulled an all-nighter have average GPAs of 3.1, compared to 2.9 for those who have,” according to a Fox News report.

Fox News reported that students often have a hard time retaining information after staying up all night to study since lack of sleep negatively affects concentration and performance levels on tests. “If I get less than six hours of sleep I just do not function at all,” said ChloJe LaFrance, a psychology and English major at St. Lawrence University.

On the flip side, depending on a student’s body and their sleep patterns, some may not find themselves overly affected by lack of sleep in regards to their classroom performance. Dr. Howard Weiss, a doctor at St. Peter’s Sleep Center in New York, argues, “Some people have different 24-hour body clocks than others, and may do better depending on class and testing times,” according to Fox.

This past January a Carnegie Melon University student placed a suggestion in the library’s suggestion box to offer sleeping bags to be checked out at the library, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report. Though this may have brought a chuckle or two to the library’s staff, the suggestion ultimately led to the university’s library to remain open for 24 hours during the school week. Several other colleges and universities across the country have also come to value the importance of remaining open all night such as Villanova, Penn State University, MIT, and the University of Virginia which Erika Linke, President of the Association of College and Research Libraries and Associate Dean of University Libraries at Carnegie Melon, reported to the Post-Gazette.

The change to keep library doors open longer at Carnegie Melon was also implemented due to continual requests from students to who were not thrilled with the 3 a.m. closing time, according to the Post-Gazette. Library staff also chose to keep the lights on in the wee hours of the night to ultimately provide students who are pulling an all-nighter with an appropriate workspace.

“It’s being surrounded by people who make you realize you’re not the only one who’s up studying…When you’re home, it’s so comfortable. Your bed is right there. You can jump right in. But here, everyone is in the same mode,” Rebecca Kim, a chemical engineering major from Carnegie Melon told the Post Gazette.

Of course excellent time management is indeed the best solution to staying far and clear from having to deal with the stresses that come with pulling an all-nighter. However, excessive college workloads causes all-nighters to happen to the best of us, regardless of where our GPAs stand.

If you’re going to be a night owl and watch the sunrise as you type away at a paper or study, keep the tips listed below in mind which were reported on Suite 101’s College Student Survival Tips for All Night Study Sessions post.

Plan! Write a detailed list of everything you need to accomplish and prioritize.

Choose a space that will allow you to be as productive as possible. Maybe you work well at your desk in your dorm or apartment. Others need to get out of their room to escape distractions and work best at the library or other locations on campus that may be open throughout the night. Wherever a student chooses to go, it’s important to make sure they are not too comfy. This will prevent from any dozing off or finding your head in a book in the morning.

Careful on the caffeine consumption! “Caffeine can help, but you really need to use it in moderation. After binging on caffeine, your body crashes, which means you might be in terrible shape later in the evening or during your exam.”

Put on the tunes low! Be sure to choose music that’s not too calm or distracting.

Allow yourself a short 5-minute study break every hour. Get up, stretch, take a walk to clear your mind.

Don’t eat too many carbs. Instead eat foods rich in protein. Carbs help with increasing energy, but foods high in protein will provide a greater source of energy to help keep you alert and productive throughout the night. Choose snacks such as nuts or cheese.

Drink up the H20! Staying hydrated helps with much needed stamina.

Stay and think positive! Try to calm yourself down by reminding yourself “I can do this.”

Get more all-nighter strategies with this quick Howcast video here.

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