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We pulled an all-nighter to answer this one.

Hey:

Settle an argument with my friend. He says cramming for an exam doesn’t work. I say staying up all night studying and going right into the exam makes the information fresh in my brain just long enough to take the test. What do you say?

-- B Average, San Marcos

I say, if you’d listen to your friend, you could be a Rhodes Scholar. Then you’d get to hang out with Bill Clinton at reunions. But if you’re just a B kinda guy, happy to breeze along with the occasional all-nighter, then read no farther. Three sentences may be your limit anyway. But don’t take my word for it. They’ve actually studied this very question at Harvard Medical School, and I’m sure the shrink who ran the tests got plenty of shut-eye.

Two groups of subjects were taught a new skill and given plenty of time to practice. Then one group hit the rack and the other sat out by a freeway all night or something like that, still practicing. The well-rested students performed way better than the other crowd. But the results had nothing to do with fatigue, sez the science guys. According to the chief inquirer, sleep is critical to the formation of memories, which is basically what learning is. After a bout of studying, they say, a bare minimum of four hours of sleep will give your brain a chance to tidy up and put all those facts in brain slots where you can get at them.

The first two hours, when we’re in very deep sleep, brain chemicals “move” all those shiny new facts into our brain’s cortex, the site of long-term memories. Hours two through four, the brain sorts through all the tripe and files it in appropriate cranial cubbyholes. Nerve cell links are solidified, and the place starts to look pretty organized. If we can manage hours five and six of rack time (REM/dream sleep), our brains use that to shuffle back through the night’s work and process it. Sounds a little like working for the post office.

The problem with all-nighters is that whatever you’re trying to cram into your headbone never makes it to a place where you can retrieve it easily. You derail the chemical process of memory storage. Use this as ammunition when you doze off in class.

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Hey:

Settle an argument with my friend. He says cramming for an exam doesn’t work. I say staying up all night studying and going right into the exam makes the information fresh in my brain just long enough to take the test. What do you say?

-- B Average, San Marcos

I say, if you’d listen to your friend, you could be a Rhodes Scholar. Then you’d get to hang out with Bill Clinton at reunions. But if you’re just a B kinda guy, happy to breeze along with the occasional all-nighter, then read no farther. Three sentences may be your limit anyway. But don’t take my word for it. They’ve actually studied this very question at Harvard Medical School, and I’m sure the shrink who ran the tests got plenty of shut-eye.

Two groups of subjects were taught a new skill and given plenty of time to practice. Then one group hit the rack and the other sat out by a freeway all night or something like that, still practicing. The well-rested students performed way better than the other crowd. But the results had nothing to do with fatigue, sez the science guys. According to the chief inquirer, sleep is critical to the formation of memories, which is basically what learning is. After a bout of studying, they say, a bare minimum of four hours of sleep will give your brain a chance to tidy up and put all those facts in brain slots where you can get at them.

The first two hours, when we’re in very deep sleep, brain chemicals “move” all those shiny new facts into our brain’s cortex, the site of long-term memories. Hours two through four, the brain sorts through all the tripe and files it in appropriate cranial cubbyholes. Nerve cell links are solidified, and the place starts to look pretty organized. If we can manage hours five and six of rack time (REM/dream sleep), our brains use that to shuffle back through the night’s work and process it. Sounds a little like working for the post office.

The problem with all-nighters is that whatever you’re trying to cram into your headbone never makes it to a place where you can retrieve it easily. You derail the chemical process of memory storage. Use this as ammunition when you doze off in class.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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