Pulling an ‘All Nighter’: Is it Really a Good Idea?

 03 - 19 - 13
Uncategorized News

A lot of people’s preferred method for tackling exams or coursework is to pull an ‘all nighter,’ where they try to cram in as much information as possible before a test or deadline; usually this involves copious amounts of coffee, and can result in the person slightly losing their grip on reality. While all nighters might work for some people, they’re generally not recommended if you want to get a good mark, or if you want to avoid getting into bad habits for your revision and essay writing.

Defenders of all nights might point to how the stress of a deadline makes them work harder and focus more; moreover, if they already have a rough idea of what they want to write about for an essay, and if they have notes, they can just focus for a certain amount of time. Similarly, revising for an exam the next before might allow you to take on more information, which is then fresher in your mind for the exam.

Some studies have also suggested that people who suffer from depression or concentration problems might function better over night – this means taking naps in the afternoon, and moderating your caffeine and food to be focused throughout the night – if you live in a noisy house, working through the night might also mean you get more peace and quiet to concentrate on your work.

However, most studies of all nighters tend to suggest that ploughing on through the evening and morning actually causes concentration problems, and results in worse academic performances. Cramming the night before doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re able to reproduce the information the next day, and can mean that you’re physically too tired to actually perform well in an exam.

Other risks involved with pulling an all nighter on a regular basis might also include heightened levels of anxiety, heart problems, and stomach complaints (possibly linked to drinking too much coffee). Getting into the habit of cramming the night before might also mean that you take a risk with every piece of work or exam – if the approach has worked once, then it might be tempting to try it again. Moreover, some students see the all nighter as a challenge that will allow them to break procrastination, or do work when they absolutely have to.

However, this isn’t the most sensible approach. It’s much better for your academic performance, and for your health, to start revising or working on an essay well before the deadline. Break down your weeks into a rough schedule, and give yourself enough time to properly digest information. Don’t push yourself too hard at first, and find ways to reward yourself for completing short bursts of work.

Get up early, eat breakfast, and go for a walk or a run during the day to sharpen your mind. Cramming overnight will ultimately mean that you find it more difficult to concentrate without getting too tired, and can mean that you end up wasting more time on social networks than actually concentrating on what you need to. Think about revision or writing an essay like exercising – no one’s going to skip training for weeks before a race, before trying to build themselves up to peak strength just the night before.

Guest Post by Donna Baxter
Donna B. is a massive advocate of education and spends a considerable amount of her time selling the virtues of a good education to whoever will listen.

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