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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Lack of Sleep

Thinking of pulling an all-nighter? Think again. Studies show that sleep deprivation does a real number on your mind and your body.

Thinking of pulling an all-nighter? Think again. Sleep scientists have found that sleep deprivation does a real number on your body—and not always in the ways you’d expect.

Here are 10 things you didn’t know about sleep deprivation that will have you crawling into bed at a more reasonable hour:

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1. Being sleep-deprived is a lot like being drunk.

An Australian study found that, as far as reactions times and judgment were concerned, being awake for 18 hours in a row and then getting behind the wheel of a car was equivalent of a blood alcohol level of .05. A full 24 hours without sleep? That’s like a blood alcohol level of 1.0—well over the legal limit of .08.

Is that really the right state of mind for an exam? We’re guessing you’d never consider going to an exam drunk. Otherwise you likely wouldn’t be visiting a blog about better study habits.

Alternatively, by planning on more regular study intervals in the weeks leading up to an exam you can avoid the all-nighter trap, get a good night’s sleep, and wake up refreshed and ready to ace it!

2. Lack of sleep makes you clumsier.

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It’s not just car accidents that will increase: sleep deprivation also makes you clumsy, so you’ll be more accident-prone in general. Your grip won’t be great, you’ll trip and fall, and you’re much more likely to break things when you’re tired.

While this is important knowledge for anyone who, you know, walks around on a daily basis, this could be especially important for student athletes whose physical performance might affect their scholarship status. Student athlete or not, just be sure to keep your brain and your body sharp with regular shut-eye!

3. Chronic sleep deprivation weakens your immune system.

When your body is constantly under-rested, your inflammatory response increases—your system is literally fighting to try to bring you down for some shut-eye. That inflammation is notorious for causing all kinds of health problems, from a weakened immune system to a greater risk of cancer and other chronic illnesses.

Even if it just means you get a nasty cold, nothing sets you back in school like a couple of sick days, especially during exam season. So get some sleep and stay healthy!

4. An all-nighter makes you forgetful.

Staying up all night to cram for that big test is probably doing more harm than good when it comes to your grades. Just one night without sleep significantly reduced test subjects’ working memory, making it hard for them to complete tasks. What’s the point of cramming in the studying if you won’t be able to recall it the next day when you need it most?

 5. Sleep deprivation ruins your emotional intelligence.

When you’re tired, you can’t trust yourself to read between the lines to understand what the people around you are feeling, so you’re more likely to get into arguments, feel bad about yourself or even become more superstitious. The upshot? When you’re sleep-deprived, your relationships suffer.

6. Lack of sleep affects your mood.

Psychology Today study found that even one bad night of sleep can severely affect your mood. Those who experience chronic lack of sleep tend to be more irritable, angry, and hostile.

Lack of sleep can also affect your ability to enjoy positive news or experiences, so really you’re also ruining your post-exam celebrations on top of lowering your chances of acing the test in the first place.

7. Sleep loss ages your skin faster.

It’s not just puffy eyes and dark circles you need to worry about. Sleep deprivation stresses out our body and causes it to release cortisol, which in turn breaks down the collagen cells that keep your skin taut and elastic, so you’re likely get wrinkles earlier.

8. Losing sleep affects your metabolism and your judgment.

When your natural sleep patterns are disrupted, your metabolism takes a hit, which makes it more likely that you’ll eat unhealthy things. You’ll also be more susceptible to bad judgment calls about what you eat—that 4 a.m. greasy pizza run isn’t going to keep your brain or your body in top form.

9. Even pets have sleeping disorders.

It’s not just humans who suffer the effects of sleep deprivation and disorders. Animals won’t willfully delay sleep the way humans do, but they are just as likely to suffer from narcolepsy and other sleep problems that disturb their sleep—and they suffer the dangers as well.

10. Losing sleep is depressing.

Though it’s not an outright cause of clinical depression, sleep deprivation makes symptoms of depression worse. Along with damaging relationships, lack of sleep makes it harder to cope with everyday issues, leaving you feeling helpless and isolated.

Sleep deprivation is no joke, so don’t fall into the trap of waiting until the last minute to study. Work ahead with Course Hero, and you’ll never have to pull an all-nighter again!

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