University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Sleep deprivation nears a termly high

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Oct 19, 2012

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Sleep deprivation is reaching its termly-peek as deadlines and coursework for the mid-term assessments loom.
As the first semester of Sussex treads into its fifth week, students are beginning to settle into the new academic structure. The course inductions and study skills sessions are far-behind and the focus has been turned to the mid-term assessments.

Photo: Andrada Focsa

With coursework and exams comes time-consuming revision.
Caffeine-fuelled library binges become the norm as the thousands of words start to rack up and sightings of students asleep on sofas or computers are pointed out like tourist hotspots.

Researchers at Harvard and Berkley Universities have discovered that all-nighters can do serious damage to your mental health.

Studies by Professor Susan Redline show a link between frequent sleep deprivation and the onset of psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. In the long term forcing the body to stay awake on a regular basis may lead to heart disease or cancer, due to a rise in blood pressure.

Missing a night’s sleep can create short term euphoria as the body produces more dopamine than normal.  Whilst this chemical boosts positivity and motivation, an excess of it in the body can cause people to make rash and risky decisions.

It is an addictive stimulant because the parts of your brain responsible for planning and evaluating situations shut down when you are sleep deprived, and so the optimistic side takes over.

Researchers say that depriving yourself of sleep is not only harmful to you but also to your grades. Without sleep your memory can’t consolidate, and all-nighters hinder your ability to recall facts by damaging your memory’s circuitry.

One law student said that during last year’s exam period she “only slept for 4 hours a night, sometimes on my desk”. Few are lucky enough to escape the entirety of their degree studies without encountering a sleep deprived night in order to perfect a piece of coursework or do last minute revision for an exam.

Some students however, feel that the odd all-nighter is perhaps deserved after a hard week’s work. A final year student commented: “I’m looking forward to finishing my finals and being able to go and enjoy the end of my time in Brighton”.

Letitia Egan

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