Running on Empty: All-Nighters and Why I Am Never Doing That Again
November 4, 2023
Arsh Gill, Low Entropy Volunteer Writer
To briefly introduce myself, I am a third-year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia. Hence, all-nighters, sleep deprivation and stress are prominent in my life, while I can also, shamefully, admit that rest and self-care are often put onto the back burner.
With that being said, whenever I push myself to stay up late to complete my work or put in a few extra hours of studying, I can confidently say that it ruins my productivity for the next day. Although I always convince myself that I’m doing myself a favour by staying up late, I usually end up waking up extremely late the next day and being less productive because I feel so groggy and tired. In sum, what I thought was a good idea to get extra work done just ends up balancing out because of the lack of work I do the next day.
As all-nighters often force students to run on empty, in my experience, I have also found that the material I think I’m learning doesn’t stick around for long. As the night goes on, every sentence starts to blend into one, it becomes more difficult to memorize information, easy concepts start to not make any sense and the frustration, along with my anxiety levels, rise. With this usually comes a full-blown panic that I should’ve started my studying earlier and been more responsible in organizing my time. However, now that it’s too late to reverse time, I simply have to force myself to keep going and hope that I can do better next time.
Pulling an all-nighter, especially prior to a daunting exam or assessment, in my experience, is never worth it. While during the night I think that those extra few hours of studying are only going to be beneficial to help me get down even more information, it never really works that way. By the time the actual exam rolls around, I am, without fail, feeling extremely tired, and have slowed cognitive functioning. The coffee is usually wearing off and the new cup I convince myself to brew no longer has an effect on me. Moreover, my body is aching and my sleep-deprived state has reduced my attention span and concentration. All of a sudden, because I am so tired, the exam becomes significantly more difficult for me. I find it harder to even remember basic facts, I can no longer critically analyze and apply knowledge to questions, and it becomes harder for me to draw connections between various concepts and lectures in the way that the question is prompting me to do.
I guess I should also add that I think how beneficial all-nighters are depends on whether the individual is a night owl or a morning bird. Therefore, I don’t want to speak on behalf of everyone with my bleak experiences pulling all-nighters. In a way, I should be thankful for being able to at least try to pull all-nighters, as those experiences helped me realize how much of a morning bird I am. Now, rather than pulling any other all-nighters, I have learned from my mistakes and instead organize my work prior. I plan out my schedules accordingly to pace my learning more beneficially to ensure I am getting a full night’s rest. With this new balanced schedule, not only can I avoid cramming before an exam, but I also have opportunities to ask my professor questions, which in turn allows me to have a greater understanding of the topics and perform better on my exams to achieve greater marks.
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