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Staying Up Late—Up or Down?

SEP . 05 2016
Peking University, Sep. 5, 2016: Its 11:10 pm, when other people may consider as the time for bed, however, there are houses overcrowded with PKUers outside the campus. Walking into whichever restaurants or cafes near the southwest gate, you will find it difficult to seat yourself, for students planning to stay up late have already occupied all the availableseats.

During the mid-term exam season, if you walk into Zoo Coffee,KFC or any other cafes that are still open in the midnight , you will find yourself standing in the middle of a stressful silence. Under halos around luminous daylight lamps, everyone around you buries themselves in piles of books or fixes their eyes on the computer. They seldom talk or laugh thus there is not much sound to be heard. When being asked why they come here to stay up, interviewees gave us diverse reasons for staying up late. Most of the students put the blame on deadlines piling mountains high or the coming mid-term exam.And the biggest group sitting around a rectangular table told us that they were the debate team and this kind of late night meeting was the only chance to gather all the members together to carry out discussions. The debate team is really famous for staying up late and discuss for the competition. “It’s very normal,” said one sophomore student, “there is no time for us to prepare in the day time and somehow it’s the only choice that we have to stay up late.” Also, a couple sitting in the corner told us that there were pretty busy with schoolwork during the day thus they could only snatch some time together at night. Besides, according to a girl, “I just don’t want to stop in the middle of my paper so I would like to write at one stretch although it may keep me up till midnight. And it feels really great to finish it in advance while my roommates have to burn the midnight oil before the deadline.” There are also some minorities. Of several nights’ observation, we found there are always one or two groups playing table games and a few students of foreign language reading aloud obscure languages.

As for the requirements for place to stay up, “A socket, Internet, sufficient light and quiet environment” is the answer of a senior. Other students also attach importance to the cost to stay in the cafe and whether it’s smoke-filled.It can easily be seen from the criteria that most students stay up mainly for study and are a little particular about the environment.

Obviously,staying up is not only a life style of only few people,but an important part of PKU culture.It has huge effects in many aspects.For example,Bamboo closes at 24:00 in the “peacetime”.However,when the war of exam is about to launch before the final exam,it will open until 1:00 am to 1:30 am.Also,staying up late has brought a lot of business opportunity for many vendors,for instance,the hot-hot-hot in CBD opens until 2:00 am for students who stay up late and feel hungry at night.And Zoo Coffee and Saint Mole choose to open 24 hours and most of their guest at night are students busy with their study.

However,staying up late is not a new trend in this university. Dating back to the last century when there were not as many cafés or restaurants outside the campus as there are nowadays, students who wanted to study for longer hours had to rely on the daylight lamp in the corridor. Its popularity never weakens through these years, and to study still is the foremost issue. According to our research, nowadays, about 80% of students have the experience of staying up late. It seems that the spirit of PKU never fades.
One interesting thing is that staying up late is not only common in PKU,but also in other universities in China.When asked why,the main answer of staying up is still preparing for the exam and fighting deadlines,but some of them also say that their roommates don’t go to sleep at night and make noise so they just can’t go to sleep and forced to do something else instead of sleeping. The exchange students are not excluded, either. A girl from Singapore told us that she often stayed up late before the exams to review.And an American girl said that she nearly go to bed after 12 am everyday on weekdays watching TV shows and chatting with her family online.On weekends,she would go to the pub sometimes and go to sleep even later.So we can see from the research that staying up is popular among university students in China and even all over the world and becomes a kind of new lifestyle of we youth.

Although counting as part of the campus culture, staying up late undeniably does harm to our body. About 60 of the students who stays up late feel sick after one night with little sleep. Most of them replied that the next day they were very groggy and couldn't concentrate at all. These symptoms may only be the external expressions. What you should be aware of is that how much transition it can bring to our body. It is reported that poor sleep may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new research out of the Netherlands. It is also a universally acknowledged fact that not having enough sleeps leads to belly fat. Besides, hypertension is one possible consequence of lack of sleep. These medical nouns may seem too far away from us, but it is definitely not an uncommon thing that we are likely to suffer from a feeling of illness after one night with little sleep. One interviewee described it vividly that he felt like a drunken man. The other days, Huashang newspaper posted a piece of weibo message saying that a college student in Chengdu suffered from sudden deafness due to a disordered lifestyle including lack of sleep. Under this post, almost all the hot comments express their shock and determination of staying up late no more.And it’s very easy to form the habit of staying up.And most of our interviewees said that they had kept the habit for many years since middle school.So it’s the best that we don’t stay up at first.

Is there anything we can do to make it less harmful? Most of the students choose to sleep for longer hours and it indeed helps. Study shows that body and brain can fully recover with a few nights of good sleep. But we still need to be aware of the fact that on the time scale of months of sleep deprivation, it’s unknown that whether brain function can be fully repaired.

Staying up late is dangerous not only because it will raise health problem,but also because,as a senior says, that “it’s not safe to go outside the campus in the mid-night,especially for girls without company”.As there are only few dormitories on campus that have rooms for individual study over night.And the dorms will shut off the electricity for we students to take a good rest.Most of the students who choose to stay up will study in outside cafes.The “weird uncle” in KFC is a typical example.Once a boy’s chicken wings were robbed by him and the boy was totally shocked at the moment. “At one time,I saw him walked out of the ladies’ restroom,”said a girl with huge surprise on her face, “and I couldn’t believe my eyes!”Of course,we can’t say that the weird uncle is that harmful,but we can see from the stories that staying up late outside the campus can be a potentially dangerous situation.

Have you ever seen the appearance of PKU at 3:00 am? For students who walk back to their dorm after finishing their work, yawning and shivering in the freezing coldness, their answer must be “yes”. Staying up late definitely has been an indispensable feature in every PKU campus life. “Staying up late is an inevitable choice for me, says a senior yawning and packing to get back her dorm, “but I do not recommend this lifestyle to you freshmen.”

Reported by: Dong Fuyao / Zhu Zhixuan
Edited by: Candice Liao / Choisum Kwok