Effects of Staying Up All Night for Adults and Teens 

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Young man using desktop pc at desk in home office
Pulling an all-nighter. We’ve all either done it ourselves or know people who have voluntarily skipped sleeping and stayed up all night. In teenage years, staying up all night is typically tied to cramming for a test, staying up until sunrise gaming with friends or having a movie marathon. For adults, it could mean not sleeping because they are trying to finish a work project or they get caught up in online surfing. Any way it happens, all-nighters can have some noticeable effects on physical and mental health.
Staying up vs. sleeping. When people pick an all-nighter over shut-eye, research shows they are cheating their body out of much-needed sleep. Sleep is not just a way for our bodies to recharge. During good sleep, plaque is cleaned out of the brain, which helps keep our cognitive functioning intact. Our digestive system gets a rest from meals and snacks. Repairs are made to muscles and our nervous system.
How much sleep teens and adults need. While everyone’s sleep schedule differs, there is a recommended window of sleep depending on a person’s age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenagers need eight to 10 hours of good sleep each day. In many cases, their bodies and brains are still growing. For adults, seven hours or more is the sweet spot.
Sleep deprivation effects on teens. Research has shown that lack of sleep among teenagers and adults is a growing problem, and teen sleep deprivation has been characterized as an epidemic by some medical professionals. It can have serious consequences for their health. Teens who don’t get enough sleep can experience several side effects, according to the CDC and Stanford Medicine. These include a higher risk of:
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Injuries
  • Mental health issues
  • Problems with behavior
  • Attention issues
  • Drowsy driving vehicle accidents
  • Poor grades
  • Depression
  • Feelings of self-harm
Sleep deprivation affects us in real time. At any age, the goal of a full day’s cycle is to make sure your body gets enough deep and restful sleep. Not a few fitful hours stitched together. And not a series of naps. Going without sleep can have a fast – and detrimental – string of effects on the body, according to the Sleep Foundation. According to Healthline, these include:
After 24 hours: According to the CDC, someone who has stayed up all night has the cognitive impairment level of a drunken driver with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10. They are also likely irritable, have brain fog and have a loss of coordination.
After 36 hours: The body starts to crave sleep. A person may nod off without knowing it for 30 seconds at a time. Behavior and memory are impaired.
After 48 hours: Heightened stress level. Anxiety. Hallucinations are possible.
Recovery from staying up all night is possible, it will just take time. Sleep experts recommend going to bed early instead of planning to sleep in as a recovery method. And be patient. Research has shown it can take several days to get your body back on track after staying up all night.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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