'Tis the Season for Final Exams and Sleep Deprivation

Dec 11, 2017

It's final exam week at SIU-Carbondale and soon high school students in the area will be taking their own finals.

For some students that means extra study time trying to catch up on classwork or cramming for a final. That might include pulling an all-nighter - but is that really a good idea when it comes to learning?

Dr. Sarah Zallek specializes in sleep disorders. She says no.
"Momentarily we can perform just as well if we're super sleep deprived in some conditions than if we had plenty of sleep. So if you feel like 'I've got this' on the first question on your math test, but what happens is after several minutes on the test you start to decline in your performance. The test goes more slowly, you attempt fewer questions on the test in the time allotted."

For those who think caffeine and energy drinks are the answer to get you out of the fog created by a lack of sleep, Dr. Zallek says think again.
"Caffeine can take away from sleep and keep you from resting well enough to use all the function in your brain in the first place. But is can also sort of falsely help you feel more able than you might be in terms of that knowledge the next day."

Studies show that more than 65% of teenagers don't get the recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. For college students, at least 25% don't get at least eight hours of sleep and 25% of them report that sleep deprivation affects their academic performance.