All-nighter during EXAMS: It will lead to Euphoria and Risky Behaviors

Based on a new study done by researchers at the UC Berkeley and Harvard Medical School, lack of sleep at night can lead to short-term euphoria, which can eventually lead to poor judgment and additive behaviors.

This study was done on healthy young adults, where researchers found that due to the lack of sleep, the neural pathways of stimulating euphoria increases. Mathew Walker an associate professor indicated that the brain will not be in it optimal state and swings towards both extremes not allowing wise decisions to be made. Two specific targets of sleep are disrupted: the Rapid Eye Movement (REM)- for body and brain activity which promote dreaming, and another is the Non-Rapid Eye Movement where muscles and brain resting is affected (Gujar 2011).

A study was done to compare images and rating of positive and neutral were conducted. The group who had gotten a good night’s sleep managed to have more accurate and moderate answers, whereas the ones who lacked sleep the night before gave all similar answers with positive rating. This is supported when the brains activity was compared. Those who pulled all-nighters had increased activity of the mesolimbic pathway- a brain circuit driven by  hormone dopamine. This hormonal activity increase leads to positive feelings, motivation, sex drive, addiction, cravings and decision making (Gujar 2011).

Walker explains that “short -term boost in dopamine levels, may seem advantageous, it can be detrimental if people are making impulsive decisions because they’re feeling overly optimistic. All in all, these positive activities are based on the brain’s key planning and decision making being shut down, and only the fight or flight reflex is active.

Therefore, as much as you think it is a good idea to stay up late night and study,  know that your brain will not react positively. Time yourself, and allow at least 6 hours of sleep in order to avoid all-nighters.

For detailed readings please visit the following link in Science Daily News:

2 responses to “All-nighter during EXAMS: It will lead to Euphoria and Risky Behaviors

  1. I doubt I could pull an all-nighter for an exam. There would come a point where I know studying any later would be ineffective. The material would probably not stick in my head!

    It doesn’t appear that the study by Gujar had participants stay up overnight studying for an exam. I’m curious to see how the added factor of stress affects the ratings of images. I was also wondering about a lack of sleep and test style. For example, the impulsiveness produced from an all-nighter could be detrimental for a multiple choice exam, which requires rational decision making. On the other hand, an all-nighter in preparation for a long-answer exam could have less of a negative effect.

  2. What a pertinent post for the upcoming exam session thank you! It is always interesting to see actual research into things that sometimes you take for granted as being anecdotal, like the need for sleep before a stressful exam.

    One thing they fail to mention however is, while staying up late may affect your brain negatively, do these downfalls outweigh the possible positive of studying all night. In other words is the extra knowledge you gain from the extra time to study worth the seemingly decreased brain function associated with lack of sleep. Also based on their results, I wonder if under certain test conditions it may be advantageous to withhold sleep. They say that the “fight or flight” is active, could this ever be an advantage in an exam situation?