Sleep is key to success during finals week

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an odd sleeping schedule. In the summer, I almost become nocturnal. So, when I decided to take a 7:30 a.m. class this semester, I was a little worried.

I became completely reliant on coffee. Now, I can’t imagine what skipping coffee so early in the morning would be like and hopefully I won’t have to. Some students, however, opt for the more questionable energy drinks to get them through class.

A 7:30 a.m. class hasn’t been impossible, but it also hasn’t been ideal. I average around five hours of sleep a night and less if I have exams. This is a little unsettling, especially considering the disadvantages of being sleep deprived.

One of the largest risks for getting less than five hours a sleep is an increased risk of type-2 diabetes. It was found that sleeping only five and a half hours every 24 hours for three weeks decreased metabolism by 8 percent, and brought the study group to a near-diabetic state.

Furthermore, sleeping less than five hours increases chances of heart attack and other complications. Combine the sleep deprivation that students experience with the vast amount of energy drinks students drink, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Energy drink manufacturers, such as Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy have been under scrutiny for causing more harm than good. Red Bull was recently cited by the FDA for causing heart problems and vomiting. On the other hand, 5-Hour Energy has caused “heart attacks, and convulsions,” and has even killed 13 people.

Personally, I don’t find these findings surprising. What is more surprising is that people still consume these drinks. It’s no wonder that 70 million Americans suffer from sleeping problems — a large one being insomnia. Perhaps we would be better off if we pushed the energy drinks away and stuck with a cup of coffee — a more natural and relatively safer alternative. Maybe this would lower our anxiety and stress levels and improve our ability to sleep at night. In doing so, we could actually perform better on exams.

A Health U.S. News article suggests that getting an adequate amount of sleep was better than pulling an all-nighter for a test. Obviously, sleep increases concentration and one’s chances of recalling information from memory. Anyone who has ever pulled an all-nighter before a test could attest to this. All-nighters usually don’t allow students to perform to their fullest potential.

However, this is still all more easily said than done. Most students have their own rhyme and rhythm when it comes to surviving final exams. But, if you have yet to be successful in finding yours, I encourage you to start studying now, and to establish a spring semester schedule that allows you to get adequate sleep. Also, try to stick to one to two cups of coffee a day — anything more will send you into a nervous panic.

There is nothing worse than going through finals feeling like you’ve had a headache for a full week from cramming four months of information into your head. Don’t turn into a finals-zombie.

I don’t mean to sound like your mom or anything, but relax and get enough rest, and the rest will come to you!


Reach the columnist at or follow her at @OBrunacini


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