In the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, we observe a common scene starring a student settled in front of their laptop and a survival kit of napkins, chips and several cans of Red Bull are flung to the side. With finals approaching, many of us may be considering the idea of ditching sleep to get on top of our work. We get through the day driven by a disbelief that an all-nighter will compensate for procrastination. Indeed, why worry about work now when we can accomplish everything after nightfall?
Not very long ago, I happened to pull six all-nighters in the span of a week. It would be untrue to claim that this was due to an excessive amount of work; it was rather the fact that nighttime is believed to be the moment when the creative muse speaks to artistic souls and breathes inspiration into them. Academic success was the only driving force that guided me through these previously postpones tasks.
After the first couple of all-nighters, emerging from Bobst around 7 a.m. to grab a French vanilla-flavored coffee before class gave me a sense of achievement. Washington Square Park greeted the sunrise submerged in haze. The first runners strolled along its fence, sleepiness reading in their moves. “Well, I made it till the morning!” I light-heartedly reassured myself. After my first full night at the library, I knew I was ready to pull one the next night. Strangely, caffeine-infused all-nighters thrilled me. They created the pleasant illusion that I was living my life to the fullest.
Unfortunately, my overall satisfaction with this lifestyle did not last long. After several days, I noticed radical changes in the way I dealt with everyday experiences and feelings. My motivation levels sunk and so did the will to pursue my studies and career goals. Even the smallest tasks seemed impossible to accomplish. But, paradoxically, instead of turning to my friends for advice and moral support, I shut myself off within the library walls. Each time they raised the question of how I was doing, I would joke around and say something about how the utter exhaustion was helping me forget how dead inside I felt.
While it is argued that sleep deprivation may alleviate symptoms of clinical depression, it turns out that the opposite effect is produced in the long run. Although sleep is underrated among college students, it is essential to our general well-being, responsible for both our physical and our mental repair and restoration. Even a slight lack of sleep will eventually bring about fatigue, irritability, anxiety, general trouble thinking and feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
So, are you still wondering if one all-nighter will harm you? Don’t worry — it definitely will.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Dasha Zagurskaya at [email protected]