All-nighters, reading from a computer screen bad for student health—and GPAs

Pozoulakis, whose computer science minor found him taking 21 credits during the fall semester, said even with his attempts at time management, sometimes staying up until 5 a.m. seems like the only option.

While many students may feel forced into staying up late enough to see the sun rise over campus, studies suggest doing so could be detrimental to their grades.

A 2007 study done at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., examined the sleeping habits and final grades of 111 students, looking for a correlation between the two. Researchers found two-thirds of the students studied said they had pulled at least one all-nighter that semester, and those students who did so on a regular basis had lower GPAs.

“The day after not having slept was awful,” said Fitzgerald, who said her only official all-nighter was to write a paper for her German class last year. “I didn’t even end up doing very well on the paper.”

In addition to its possible effects on grades, not getting a sufficient amount of sleep has palpable consequences for students’ health. Sleep deprivation leads to weight gain, difficulty concentrating and a lowered immune system, according to a study done by sleep researchers at the University of Chicago.

“I get sick when I only get like four hours of sleep a night for two weeks straight,” said Pozoulakis, barely looking up from the laptop housing his partially-written assignment. “Sometimes I need to skip a day of class and sleep because I can’t get out of bed.”

The amount of time students spend in front of their laptops also has adverse effects on their health, at least for their eyes.

According to the American Optometric Association, more than two hours of time looking at an electronic display screen can lead to Computer Vision Syndrome. Symptoms include eye strain, fatigue and headaches, making that assignment even more difficult to complete.

The association recommends taking small breaks as often as every 20 minutes, as well as making sure to remain an appropriate distance from the computer screen and to blink often enough to avoid dry eye.

Though Pozoulakis and Fitzgerald said both their all-nighters were one-time events, some students find themselves relying on the strategy much more often.

eCampus News Staff