When you're in your 20s, it's easy to feel like you and your body are totally unstoppable and invincible. But as much as you'll want to deny it, your body changes a lot more quickly than you think, and it loses its ability to bounce back from not-so-great decisions -- such as neglecting to get a full night of sleep. In fact, there's a pretty big difference between pulling an all-nighter when you're 20 years old, and when you're, say, 25 years old.
Sleepless nights may have felt almost mandatory when you were 20, and you had an endless list of projects to finish, finals to cram for, papers to write, and of course, parties to attend.
But by the time you hit 25, life is definitely, well, different. You're probably working at least part-time, if not full-time. Your schedule is a bit more consistent. You have actual responsibilities that have actual consequences if you don't get your sh*t done.
So, with that said, pulling all-nighters really needs to be put to rest (pun intended -- fight me) by the time you're halfway to 30.
Elite Daily spoke with a few experts on the matter to help break down just how exactly sleepless nights affect your body at different points throughout your 20s.
Dr. Eric Braverman, MD, founder of the PathMedical Center, says when you pull an all-nighter, your body releases dopamine and cortisol. The dopamine can bring on bouts of short-term euphoria, while the heightened levels of cortisol can cause anxiety, a spike in blood pressure, and mood swings. It can basically feel like your body is undergoing a very stressful event, even if you think you feel fine.
When you're running on no sleep, your brain isn't able to regulate those mood-shifting hormones normally.
Therefore, you'll find yourself headed for a very steep crash as you try to push through that next day.
Dr. Braverman tells Elite Daily,
How this differs as you age is that, at 20, you have higher stores of dopamine, so you'll recover faster. At 25, those stores of dopamine have decreased, and your crash will last longer and you won't recover as fast.
Before you hate me forever, no one's saying you're "old" when you hit 25. But it's worth knowing that just five years can make a pretty big difference in what your body is able to physically tolerate.
And as for the 20-year-olds, don't think you're off the hook so easily. Sleep deprivation is still starving your cells of adequate recovery time to repair.
No matter how young or old you are, you're still doing yourself and your body a disservice by neglecting to get the sleep you need.
Kimberly Fenn, Reverie® sleep advisory board member and associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University, tells Elite Daily "even a single night of sleep deprivation can significantly affect physiological function."
But hey, I get it -- sometimes all-nighters just can't be avoided. While you should try your best not to make a habit of staying up all night, Dr. Amy Serin, licensed clinical neuropsychologist and president of The Arizona Neuropsychological Society, has a few tips for both 20- and 25-year-olds looking to be productive after a sleepless night.
For instance, if you're a 20-year-old college student sacrificing sleep in order to cram for an upcoming exam, Dr. Serin says to remember how much information you can retain if you absorb it just before bedtime.
She tells Elite Daily,
Study for several nights right before you go to bed, and extend your bedtime just 30 minutes so you still get adequate sleep. You retain information right before you go to sleep. So if you want to remember what you study, it's best to review before sleep, rather than doing it during the day and then surfing social media before bedtime.
As for 25-year-olds burning the midnight oil to meet a work deadline, Dr. Serin advises,
Make sure you review your work more than is typical, because you'll be more likely to make mistakes during an all-nighter session. Make the following day easy, and say no to anything extra you don't have to do. Get your sleep back on track as soon as possible, and if your job requires working at all hours because of unrealistic deadlines, consider if it's worth your long-term health.
Sleep is vital guys, and TBH, as much as an all-nighter may seem necessary, it's likely that you just have to reprioritize your responsibilities to make time for what you need to do.
That, and you probably just need to accept the fact that your body simply can't do the same things it could five years ago. Sorry, fam.