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Late night studying affects memory

Sat Feb 17, 2007 6:05 am

New Delhi: Sixteen-year-old Rishabh Goyal’s 10th Board Exams are just a month away and staying up late, cutting down on sleep is his strategy to crack the boards.

"I prefer studying after dinner till late night around 1:00 am. I sleep for just three hours before exams since I need to revise a lot," says a student, Rishabh.

"They say that studying in the morning is very helpful because the mind is fresh. But my son’s body rhythm is set in such a way that he studies late till night and maintains it so it is alright," adds Rishabh’s mother, Ruchi.

However, according to researchers at the Harvard Medical School it may not be the ideal one. Experts believe late to bed and early to rise gives you poor memory and translates into poor grades at school.


"Lack of sleep appears to disrupt functioning of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that formulates new memories," says clinical psychologist, Bhavna Barmi.

The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep at night. If the body does not get its required amount of sleep, sleep deprivation sets in and "sleep debt" begins to accumulate.

Sleep deprivation impacts a person's cognitive abilities, creativity, decision-making and memory. Over time, sleep debt can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems, depression and even obesity.

"What is also important is that one cannot compensate for a good quality sleep at night with either the daytime sleep or the sleeping in shifts," says Barmi.

Burning the midnight oil also makes you fatter according to the Northwestern University in America. However, just one hour of extra sleep makes you four-six per cent less likely to be overweight.

So this exam season, give up on the graveyard shift and take to studying in the mornings.

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