It's recommended that students take 20-minute breaks from their laptop screens.
It’s 3 a.m. on a Monday at the University of Maryland’s McKeldin Library. The second floor is still full of students furiously typing on 15-inch Macbooks, cranking out papers with deadlines mere hours away.
For many college students, all-nighters are an all-too-familiar reality, despite studies that have suggested a correlation between all-nighters and lower grade point averages (GPAs).
The scene at the university’s largest library came as no surprise to junior elementary education major Kayla Fitzgerald, and not just because finals week was just around the corner.
“There’s always a good amount of people here no matter what time it is,” said Fitzgerald on one of her breaks from her paper on child language development and reading acquisition, due at 2 p.m. that afternoon. “Around 3 a.m. is when most people start to leave, though.”
When asked if she thought she would be getting any sleep that night, Fitzgerald sighed.
“I think I’m going to bed around 8 a.m.,” she said, admitting that she was supposed to go to work then but would probably be calling in sick. “I just don’t think I can go without sleep.”
The National Sleep Foundation would probably agree, given its recommendation that adults get somewhere from seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
However, the combination of classes, term papers, and social obligations often means college students get far less than the recommendation. And hours in front of a laptop screen, according to optometrists, can have long-term effects on a student’s eyesight.
“I always try to get at least a little bit of sleep so I can try to get through most of the next day,” said Nick Pozoulakis, a sophomore electrical engineering and physics major who spent his time at McKeldin writing an essay for his 11 a.m. ethics class. “I don’t like to throw off my sleeping habits in general, but that’s why we have weekends.”