COURTING THE SANDMAN
Who needs sleep anyway? Well, me for starters ZOË EITEL
It’s already been a long day. It isn’t even close to being over. You still have an essay to write, four chapters to read and an online class to catch up on, and it’s already midnight. It looks like it’s time for an all-nighter. But how can you stay up all night and still function the next day? There is plenty of advice on the internet for those times when pulling an all-nighter is unavoidable. Which should you follow? Echo spoke with Raj Dasgupta, M.D., an assistant professor at the University of Southern California in the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, about the validity of popular all-nighter advice, and then put it to the test.
Be around friends. Dasgupta says having someone with whom to discuss the material you’re studying aids comprehension. Though I didn’t have any friends who were willing to stay up all night and study with me, my fellow Echo colleague, Nina Ruff, volunteered to keep me company from afar. We spent the night—and early morning—texting each other about our complaints and woes. Around 2:45 a.m., Nina texted that she was getting really tired, adding, “If I can get off the floor and start this laundry, I’ll be alright.” Knowing I could shoot Nina a text and laugh about how hard staying up was definitely helped keep me awake.
Exercise during breaks.
When it’s time for a break, take a walk or do some other form of physical activity. Dasgupta says exercise can help keep you awake and alert. When I got home from work, I left my mail in the lobby so I’d have an excuse to go downstairs and get it. Just getting out of my apartment helped wake me up, though the building was eerily silent. Being in spooky situations is only fun when you’ve got your wits and reflexes about you.
Take a nap. “Don’t be afraid to take a nap, but the keyword is ‘nap,’” Dasgupta says. He recommends limiting naps to 20 minutes to avoid going into deeper sleep stages that will make you feel worse when you wake up. I took two 20-minute naps during the night, one around 2 a.m. and the other around 5:30 a.m. Each time, I fell asleep as soon as I lay down. I’m not sure it reinvigorated me, but I did feel sad that I couldn’t just continue to sleep.