Why all-night study sessions may do more harm than good

Why all-night study sessions may do more harm than good

It’s the eleventh hour. You’re hitting the books, trying to cram in that last bit of knowledge before the big test. Could staying up all night studying actually do more harm than good when it comes to acing that exam?

Study experts from Brandeis University published a recent paper in eLife journal about the connection between sleep, memory and learning. They found that most animals, from flies to humans, have trouble remembering when sleep deprived.

Researchers actually studied the neurons in fruit flies to better understand their findings.

The fruit flies’ brain called the mushroom body is the section where memory is stored. The part of the brain that is responsible for storing memory was found to have active neurons when asleep.

“It’s almost as if the section of the mushroom body were saying ‘hey, stay awake and learn this,’ ” said researcher Bethany Christmann. “Then, after a while, the neurons start signaling to suppress that section, as if to say ‘you’re going to need sleep if you want to remember this later.’ ”

Understanding how sleep and memory are connected in a simple system, like fruit flies, can help scientists unravel the secrets of the human brain.

“Eventually, it could help us figure out how sleep or memory is affected when things go wrong, as in the case of insomnia or memory disorders,” said Christmann

So even if you’re not a college student cramming for a test, health experts show that a good night sleep is essential to good health.

“We are designed to sleep at night and be awake during the day, and need to maintain these rhythms to perform our best,” says Dr. Pradip Sethi, neurologist at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill.

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One Comment

  1. I used to pull all-nighters in college and it took a toll on my body! Now that I’m working 5 days a week I can’t imagine getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night. Do you think that as you get older, you realize how important a good night’s sleep is?

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.