Up all night: Just how bad are all nighters?

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Scott Woodward -- Jason Alvarez, sophomore mechanical engineering student, is one among many students who work through the night to finish homework assignments and prepare for tests the following day.
Scott Woodward — Jason Alvarez, sophomore mechanical engineering student, is one among many students who work through the night to finish homework assignments and prepare for tests the following day.

One strong, brewed cup of coffee rests on sophomore civil engineering major Jordan O. Mathe’s desk as piles of physics homework lay before him. He glances at the clock and notes that, yet again, he will be pulling an all-nighter.

Between the balances of classes, starting a new company and working two jobs since freshman year, Mathe has had little to no time for sleep.

He said that all-nighters occur every night.

“Between studies, friends, work and starting a company, time does not seem to exist,” Mathe said.

Chris Hiigel, senior communication studies and public relations double major, finds that homework and theatre keep him up for a majority of the night.

Hiigel ends theatre rehearsal at 11 p.m. or later. He said, at that point, everyone already expects a late night of homework. When looking for key strategies to achieving a successful all-nighter, both Mathe and Hiigel gave advice on some do’s and don’ts of staying up all night.

“Coffee doesn’t help me at all,” Hiigel said. “I guess I am immune. Go to Denny’s for an all-nighter because you can eat when you need to and have people to keep you up.”

For Mathe, however, coffee is a vital part of an all-nighter. While he sayshe is not an avid coffee consumer during the day or in general, one cup during late night sessions does just the trick.

“My preferred method is to drink hard coffee and then take a 10-minute nap,” Mathe said. “Afterwards, I feel ready to go.”

To eliminate procrastination, Mathe avoids pesky distractions.

“Simply do not procrastinate,” Mathe said. “When you are awake, be productive. Do not spend hours with friends or on Facebook when there is work to be completed.”

Dr. Sean Sullivan, professor of kinesiology and chair for the Department of Kinesiology, said late night food is actually a beneficial source of added energy if it is eaten in the right way.

“Eating a heavy meal right before bed is not ideal,” Sullivan said of eating meals. “But healthy, smaller meals late at night are still better than unhealthy eating at any time of day.”

While eating Denny’s late at night is an option for Hiigel, consuming too much sugar is not.

“(For) those who plan on staying awake, do not eat a ton of sugar because it will wear off,” Hiigel said.

There are, however, some foods that can be enjoyed late at night that give the body both nutritional benefits and energy.

“Foods with a lower caloric value, but high nutritional value, are ideal for evening snacks,” Sullivan said. “These can come from a healthy diet of fruits and veggies, though supplementing these vitamins if your diet is deficient is a good idea.”

Both Mathe and Hiiigel agree that studying with friends makes it easier to stay awake. This makes the slow, dragging hours of the night more bearable.

According to Sullivan, however, little to no sleep can actually cause the body harm.

“Getting less than 6-8 hours of sleep per night can increase student’s likelihood of getting sick as well as underperforming on mental exercises such as exams,” Sullivan said of the dangers associated with allnighters.

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