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Ponnada: Skip the drink, go to sleep

BY SRI PONNADA | SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 6:30 AM

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Have you ever skipped sleeping for a couple nights to cram for an incredibly hard exam? There isn’t ever enough time to do a double major, work a job, and volunteer, too. You might be thinking that losing a couple nights of sleep won’t affect you much. After all, you just have to get an A on your research paper.

But don’t forget: sleep is one of the most valuable things for you to lose.

Only 37.9 percent of students reported getting enough sleep to feel rested at least five out of seven days the week before the data were collected, according to the 2012 National College Health Assessment report.

How beneficial could it possibly be to live through two whole days feeling like you’ll flop down to the floor at any moment? Research done at the University of California-Los Angeles says not at all. In fact, those all night study-sessions of yours are quite counterproductive in nature.

The study, led by UCLA Professor of psychiatry Andrew Fuligni, shows that students who stay up studying and sleep less than usual on a given night are more likely to encounter academic problems the next day.

“No one is suggesting that students shouldn’t study,” said Fuligni in UCLA news release. “But an adequate amount of sleep is also critical for academic success.”

Something that is not mentioned in the study, however, is that sleep deprivation, which is popularly paired with excessive consumption of energy drinks, is like Superman’s kryptonite.

Energy drinks are among the fastest-growing products in the beverage sector, as reported byBeverage Digest, a publication and data service; $8.9 billion worth of energy drinks were sold in the United States last year.

These caffeine-loaded, carbonated beverages may provide you with an extra boost of energy to spend the night hitting the books, but they’re hitting your health way harder.

Energy drinks that contain sugar may contribute to weight gain, said nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky in a Mayo Clinic interview. And all the caffeine can cause nervousness, irritability, even insomnia. You could be left sleepless for nights and end up performing worse at your job and at school.

When a few extra hours of sleep are worth so much, why forsake them to experience numerous negative consequences? Study all you can during the day — maybe cut down on watching television or hanging out with friends and get that homework done. Sleep keeps you looking good and feeling good. Best of all: it’s free. So, all you overachievers out there: skip the Red Bull and try to get some sleep.


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