Student Health, students offer tips about all-nighters

By Gretchen Andersen

Everyone does it. But doctors say you shouldn’t.

The advent of Finals Week leaves students… Everyone does it. But doctors say you shouldn’t.

The advent of Finals Week leaves students more prone to all-nighters, but waiting until the last moment isn’t just bad for the G.P.A. — it can be bad for the health.

Dr. Elizabeth Wettick, medical director of the Student Health Service, offered health and sleeping advice for students to get through the last week of the semester.

—Get six hours of sleep each night.

Wettick said in an e-mail that it is not a good idea for students to stay up all night studying because sleep deprivation can bring about changes in cognitive functioning and make tasks that require focus more challenging. It can also negatively affect one’s immune function and increase vulnerability to infection.

—Eat small meals every few hours.

Every few hours, students should eat balanced snacks or mini-meals instead of large meals. In those small meals a person should include carbohydrates, protein and fat such as “yogurt with fruits and nuts, pita with re-fried beans and salsa or half a peanut butter and banana sandwich,” Wettick said.

“Avoid highly refined carbohydrates like sweets that can cause a strong rise/dip in blood sugars, or too high in fat which may leave you feeling sluggish,” she added. To quench their thirst, students should first stick to water, then follow that with diluted juices and milk.

—Avoid consuming too much caffeine

Wettick said that “some caffeine is OK,” but that it should be consumed early in the day, so that the body has time to eliminate it before resting.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, six or more 8 oz. cups of coffee per day is considered to be too much. Students should also plan to have their last cup of coffee six hours before they intend to go to sleep.


Wettick said that physical exercise is beneficial, and that students should try to work out once a day.

“Do races through the hallway or count how many jumping jacks you can do in two minutes,” Wettick said. “The break lets your brain rest, and the exercises help the brain start studying more efficiently when the break is over.”

Advice from students

— Take breaks

Many Pitt students said they take small breaks in between a few hours of studying. Alexis Karkoska, a sophomore nursing major, said she will try to go on a run during a study break or watch one of her favorite shows online. Karkoska said she would not be inclined to pull an all-nighter.

“I’ve been up until 4 a.m., and it has been to the point where after 3 a.m. there is almost no more information you can put into your brain,” Karkoska said.

— Eat cookies

Aaron Ketner, a sophomore architectural studies major, said he just treats his finals like any other exams, but a certain cookie has got him through the week.

“Oreos,” Ketner said. “They’ve been pretty clutch.”