When "Pull an All-nighter" Means Getting 9 hours of Sleep

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It can be really tough to sleep the night before a stressful or important event. I have spent many nights staying up late, studying or stressing over a tough nursing assignment the next day. I wake up the next morning tired, groggy and moody. In these cases, I forgot about how important my brain health is to success.

It is common for people to only get six hours or less of sleep a night. These people are not getting a sufficient amount of sleep to protect their brain and body. For the majority of adults it is recommended to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact your health in a number of ways. Your brain and body need sleep to help restore them. After a good night's sleep, you perform better and can make better decisions. Sleep can help you feel more alert, optimistic, and enable you to get along with people, better. Sleep also helps your body ward off disease.

Here are a few tips to help you sleep before an important event:

  • Clear your schedule of any non-essential activities.

  • Sleep in a dark room that is a comfortable temperature.

  • Avoid using electronics before bed, and having them near you while you sleep.

  • Seek medical help if you are struggling to sleep at night because of a health condition, including anxiety.

  • Napping can also be beneficial for memory enhancement and problem solving skills, especially if you keep your nap under an hour (some say a 10-20 minute nap is the most beneficial) and if you do it earlier in the day. A nap that is too long can leave you feeling more tired, and can prevent you from sleeping at night.

By not getting enough sleep you put your body at risk for many health conditions, including:

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Mental Illness

  • Infection

  • Heart Disease

Some people think that they can get by with little sleep, but keep the safety of yourself and others in mind. Each year, up to 100,000 car accidents and 1,550 deaths are caused by exhausted drivers. Drowsy driving impairs alertness and reaction time as much as driving while drunk (National Safety Council).

The next time you are tempted to pull an all-nighter to prepare for a big event, remember that you could be missing out on optimal brain function. Instead, prepare correctly, so you can get the up to nine hours of sleep you may need.

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Sleep and sleep disorders. www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html. Updated February 22, 2018. Accessed March 30, 2019.

National Safety Council. Drowsy Driving. https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/fatigued-driving. Accessed April 1, 2019.

The effects of napping on cognitive functioning. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21075238. Accessed April 1, 2019.