By Colleen King
While some are seizing the nightlife to the taste of booze and the sounds of music, others may need sugar and coffee to make it happen. Studying late, pulling all-nighters, and waking up early to finish that paper or cram for your exam are typically BAD decisions that with BAD results. Instead of sleeping, students seem to need their late night hours for extra study sessions. There are a few go-to late night study spots for students. Here are some of our favorites:
Highland Coffee. This bustling café at the north gate of LSU has all you need in terms of amenities and atmosphere. There are plenty of plugs for your laptop, there’s wi-fi, all the delicious coffee and pastries you’ll ever need, friendly staff, and plenty of other working bees to keep you company at any hour of any day.
Hours: 6 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Christ the King Catholic Center on Fraternity Row at LSU. The center has a calm atmosphere with many study rooms available. You can always find other students there enjoying the wi-fi and taking advantage of the many tables and couches in the building.
Christ the King Catholic Center on Fraternity Row at LSU is open until midnight.
Coffee Call. For a fun and friendly late-night cram session you can’t find a better spot. While the outlets are more limited here than other places, the air is supercharged with powdered sugar from the beignets. Add to that their famous café au-lait and you’ll be getting a real energy boost that will take you through the evening and beyond.
Hours: 6 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Louie’s Café. This diner has the food and coffee you need to take your study session as far into the morning as you can. While hash browns might not make you any smarter, they sure are delicious.
Louie’s Café is open 24 hours.
Middleton library. While some like the amenities and idea of studying in a coffee shop or diners, others may prefer to keep it classic – pulling their all-nighters in the library. The first floor of LSU’s library is a prime location for on-campus students looking to study close to their dorms or apartments. Location and security are a big plus for those of you who cannot put your books down.
Middleton Library is open 24 hours.
While it’s good to know there are places you can go to get the most studying possible out of your 24 hours, there are some BIG drawbacks all students, writers, and insomniacs should be aware of. Though many are under the impression that studying this late proves their productiveness and gives them the academic edge, there is no real science to back that up.
DIG talked to sleep expert Dr. David Thomas M.D., Ph.D. about what happens to the brain during an all-nighter. Dr. David Thomas of the Pediatric Center for Respiratory Sleep Medicine works with people of all ages (including LSU athletes) and is the go-to guy when it comes to the science of sleep.
First, Dr. Thomas explains what a normal, good night of sleep does for us. “Every cell in the body has an internal clock,” says Thomas. He goes on to explain that light and darkness trigger the release of different neurochemicals that make us feel alert (melanopsin) or sleepy (melatonin). This means that once the lights dim, our bodies automatically start churning out this sleepiness-juice from the hypothalamus. And once we are asleep, things get even more complex.
You see, sleep isn’t just one simple thing; it actually comes in four phases (called the circadian cycle):
- Light sleep
- Stage 2 sleep- less light sleep than “light sleep” stage
- Slow-wave sleep- when the body repairs itself
- REM sleep or dream sleep- 4-5 cycles of “rapid eye movement”
While each stage has a specific function, the main idea is that combined they maintain neuroplasticity (ability to take in and adapt to changes) and executive function. Dr. Thomas describes executive function this way: “We see something, we analyze it, it connects up with several areas of our brain- then out comes a thought, a solution, or a question.”
So when student a pulls an all-nighter, she is really giving up her abilities to: solve complex problems (let’s hope it’s not a Math exam), retain new information (let’s hope its not a History exam), or even have ideas (let’s hope it’s not an Art exam). DIG asked Dr. Thomas if there had been any studies of people pulling all-nighters. He replied yes, citing a former study of Dr. William Dement at Stanford University which forced sleep restrictions on a group of willing college students. “After 36-48 hours, they (the sleep-deprived students) they had the equivalent performance of somebody with a 0.1-0.15 alcohol level.” Irritability, depression, temperament problems, and high blood pressure were also consequences of the forced sleep restrictions.
While some questions reach beyond sleep science and into the realm of philosophy. DIG asked Dr. Thomas why study-all-night habits are still popular with students, even though they know how unhealthy it is. He says American Western ideals of ambition and productivity have screwed up some of our collective priorities. “We promote getting an education, but we don’t really promote the whole person. Culture tells us ‘you have to sacrifice or you’ll never experience success.”
Dr. Thomas believes that healthy habits are a part of getting the good education we all want. When it comes down to science, burning the midnight oil means playing with fire. So next time you are pouring over books and hash browns at 2:30 AM, consider the consequences (and take a cab home).