Tens of thousands of students across the country are burning the midnight oil for their board examinations barely a week away. But they should watch out for their health.
Studying through the night and waking up late in the morning may not be a good idea. The body clock may refuse to adjust when the examinations dawn, making students groggy and tired when they need to be alert and focussed.
Several students stay awake at night because they can study undisturbed for hours with just their table lamp for company. But they don't realise that the will have to be up and about for the 10.30 a.m.-1.30 p.m. examination schedule beginning March 1.
Manan Gupta, a Class 12 student, studies till 4 a.m. every day and sleeps till noon the next day during the ongoing study break. He finds that his concentration level is at its best at night.
"I am able to cram my social studies lessons very well at night. My younger brother cannot disturb me, and my friends also do not call up. So, I study - with a small break to play on the computer - till I tire at around 4 a.m."
Another reason for Manan to stay up at the night are his taxing coaching school schedules - three-four hours daily with maths, science, computers and Sanskrit packed in for which he has to study their given study material, do the exhaustive homework and also take regular tests.
The night is practically the only time he has to study on his own. Though he brushes aside the possibility of night-time studying taking a toll on him during examinations, he says: "I think I shall be fine, but maybe there is sense in this talk about the body clock. "
Says Swati Mohan, a counsellor at G.D. Goenka School: "When students get used to studying late hours, they come bleary-eyed for the examination next day. It tells on their concentration, as the brain has to re-adjust its capacity to focus. Their sleep cycle also gets disrupted. So it is advisable for students to get used to sleeping on time before examination."
Mohan says a part of the advice they give to students is to wind up their studies early in the night so that they wake up fresh in the morning after an eight-hour sleep, which is mandatory for good performance.
Sleeping early is also good for general physical fitness, advises Sisir Paul, senior paediatrician with Max Hospital.
"Anyone staying up till late will find his reflexes sluggish in the morning and feel exhausted. The body needs a certain amount of rest for the brain to be able to perform well. Studying late should not extend beyond midnight."
Breaks after every hour or two of studying is good as, according to experts, the human brain cannot concentrate beyond that time.
But Raghu Anand, a Class 10 student, feels it does not work with him. "It takes me one hour to begin concentrating. So if I have to take a break after every hour as our teachers tell us to do, I don't think I'll end up studying at all."
Eating well is another thing doctors and teachers advise students. But hotel food is best avoided.
"One cannot afford to fall ill now. It is best to eat home cooked meals as food from outside may carry germs. Apart from containing high oil concentration and spice, the food could also be stale," Paul said.