Sleeping Your Way to Success

As the fall semester winds down at colleges and universities, countless students will doubtless be pulling all-night study sessions to prepare for upcoming exams. Fueled by Red Bull, Monster energy drinks, or sheer fear of failure, last minute cramming will be going on in dorm rooms, libraries around the world.

Ironically, as it turns out, the loss of sleep during these all-nighters could actually work against students performing well.

Dr. Philip Alapat, medical director of the Harris Health Sleep Disorders Center, and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, recommends that students study throughout the semester instead, and get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before exams.

Memory recall and ability to maintain concentration are much improved when an individual is rested,” he says. “By preparing early and being able to better recall what you have studied, your ability to perform well on exams is increased.”

College-aged students ideally should get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. Truth is, most students get much less.

Any prolonged sleep deprivation will affect your mood, energy level and ability to focus, concentrate and learn, which directly affects your academic performance,” Alapat adds.

All-nighters, especially when coupled with caffeinated beverages lead to a risk for developing insomnia and sleep disorders, including apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Alapat’s recommendations:

  • Get 8-9 hours of sleep nightly (especially before final exams)
  • Try to study during periods of optimal brain function (usually around 6-8 p.m.)
  • Avoid studying in early afternoons, usually the time of least alertness
  •  Don’t overuse caffeinated drinks
  • Recognize that chronic sleep deprivation may contribute to development of long-term diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease

Good advice!  Excuse me while I go to bed – I have an Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) exam in the morning!

Differentiating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Lyme Disease

Both chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Lyme disease can result in profound exhaustion that may be prolonged and debilitating. It can be accompanied by either excessive sleeping or insomnia. Yet oftentimes these diseases are dismissed by family, friends and physicians or attributed to simple tiredness from overwork or stress.

For such patients, hope may be in sight.  A new study reveals that researchers have discovered a test that can distinguish patients with Lyme disease from those with chronic fatigue syndrome, and also from people in normal health.

In the study, investigators analyzed spinal fluid from 43 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, 25 people who had been diagnosed with and treated for Lyme disease, (neurologic post-treatment Lyme disease – nPTLS) and 11 healthy people.

Until now, there have been no known biomarkers to distinguish between Lyme disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome , nor strong evidence that the central nervous system was involved in the two conditions.

“Spinal fluid is like a liquid window to the brain,” says Steven E. Schutzer MD, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

The researchers identified 738 proteins present only in the spinal fluid of CFS patients and 692 proteins found only in the spinal fluid of nPTLS patients.

One next step will be to find the best biomarkers that will give conclusive diagnostic results,” said Dr. Schutzer. “In addition, if a protein pathway is found to influence either disease, scientists could then develop treatments to target that particular pathway.”

Have you been misdiagnosed, mistreated or accused of malingering?  SRxA’s Word on Health would love to hear from you.