How not sleeping can affect your brain

Video by Jack Drain

With finals well under way, you can find students in the library with everything from large backpacks full of textbooks, to energy drinks and unhealthy snacks, to pillows and blankets.

Students tend to prioritize study over sleep at the end of the semester, which can be a dangerous move. Sleep deprivation or all nighters can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, weight loss and weight gain.    

Tracy Alloway, associate professor and graduate program director of psychology, has some tips for students who study last minute or chose to cram before their exam. “Learning the night before can be very beneficial,” Alloway said, citing a study showed that students who study at night retain more information than students who study in the morning or during the day.  

Alloway said she doesn’t recommend taking supplements to help stay awake during finals week. This is something student’s have a habit of doing, some through the year, some just during finals, but generally, there’s more use of caffeine-based stimulants around this time.

While sports management student James Gullo said he prefers energy drinks, like Monster or Redbull, public relations students Madison O’Keefe said, “Starbucks espresso— definitely caffeine, a lot of caffeine,” is what helps her power through those final study sessions.

“Instead of using energy drinks and medication to focus on exams, use rosemary oil or peppermint oil to open the blood brain barrier to improve memory,” Alloway said. “Instead of using supplements like coffee, eating blueberries or dark chocolate can help jog your memory and keep your energy up.”

When it comes to meal habits during this stressful week she recommends foods such as salmon and walnuts before an exam. They’re probably better for you than cold pizza, fast food, or whatever’s left in your fridge right now.

Try following Alloway’s tips as you work to survive the rest of this semester, and if you can’t or choose not to, just remember this- it’ll all be over Friday. C’s get degrees, right?

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