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The dangers of pulling an all-nighter

Pulling all-nighters is now a common occurrence for university students. But, despite their popularity among students, there are probably more reasons to avoid them.

By Lingfeng Ge, Third Year Chemistry PhD

Pulling all-nighters is now a common occurrence for university students. Sometimes you just have to meet the deadline for your coursework, sometimes you feel the need to cram for an exam, or sometimes you simply want to dance till the early hours….You may come up with a thousand reasons to pull an all-nighter, but, despite their popularity among students, there are probably more reasons to avoid them.

Most of you reading this have likely already pulled a few all-nighters this year, and I’m 100% sure you felt like death the day after. You may have also had a headache, dizziness, an upset tummy, a sore throat… the list goes on. Some of you may have even googled things like ‘all-nighter health effects’ and learned that an all-nighter will probably lead to poor memory, higher blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, weaker immune system, bad mood (to name but a few) However, some consequences of an all-nighter may escape your attention:

We've all been there Googling this before... haven't we? | Epigram / Daisy Farrow

It has a negative impact on your appearance

When you see this, you’re probably thinking about dark circles and bags under your eyes. Indeed, those are something that makes you look unwell and unattractive. However, those are not all the all-nighter-related features on your face - studies have shown that people can notice other subtle nuances. In one study conducted on the effects of sleep deprivation, researchers asked untrained observers to rate the photos of the people who have normal sleep and those who have pulled an all-nighter, the observers found the sleep-deprived people had ‘paler skin, more wrinkles/fine lines, and more droopy corners of the mouth’ and rated the sleep-deprived people as less attractive. If you want to just use some makeup to cover the dark circles and bags under your eyes, then your effort to hide your fatigue may be a lost cause, and people will still see you as less attractive than normal!

It tends to increase your anxiety level

You may have seen lots of articles saying that an all-nighter may trigger mental health problems such as anxiety, but a mentally-healthy person is usually unable to figure out what’s happening to their mind when an all-nighter lifts their anxiety level. Have you noticed that, after an all-nighter, you tend to worry about things that you normally don’t worry about? Or are you more easily annoyed by little things after an all-nighter? And find everyone around you annoying? (You’re not usually one to complain about the dishes, but after an all nighter, it riles you). If you have such thoughts and wonder what’s wrong with yourself, then the answer is likely your lack of sleep. If this happens, don’t worry too much – you’re not alone, and you’ll be fine! Just try to relax and don’t overthink for the day. And when the following night comes, try to have sufficient sleep! I have experienced it myself, and I find a good night’s sleep can always reduce my anxiety level.

An all-too-familiar sight: confusion, annoyance, fatigue | Epigram / Daisy Farrow

It could inconvenience you for several days

You think an all-nighter can affect you only the day after? Wrong! Have you heard of the butterfly effect? Here goes: a small change can result in large differences later. During the day after the all-nighter, you have to arrange everything carefully – if not, then the following days could be a disaster. For example, you could easily fall asleep for a few hours during the day, and then you can’t have a good sleep during the following night. And then your routine will be further disturbed for the following day. And so on and so on... If you don’t handle that well, then the work will accumulate day by day and your health problems caused by the all-nighter will be more severe due to the increasing stress.

Now that you have seen so many problems that are likely to arise from the lack of one night’s sleep, will you still be pulling an all-nighter?

Featured: Epigram / Daisy Farrow

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