The Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre
Institute of Psychiatry
King’s College London
Anecdotal evidence suggests that writing a dissertation involves hard work, dedication and increased levels of stress. While hard work has been reported to be rewarding for some, others have associated it with hypertension, increased McDonald’s consumption, and hair loss (Schwartz, Pickering, & Landsbergis, 1996).
Therefore, it is not surprising that several studies have looked at stress reducing techniques (Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004). However, only few authors have explored stress reducing methods in the context of unorthodox study practices. In the current study, we assess the efficacy of novel stress reducing interventions in three MSc Neuroscience Students undertaking night time study. Night time study poses several challenges, including a shortage of establishments trading in caffeine and food, an impaired circadian rhythm, and stigmatisation by society. Therefore, stress-reducing interventions must consider these challenges and make best use of limited resources.
This study has been approved by the Tesco Horse Meat Ethics Committee.
Participants: 1 male and 2 females (mean age 22) with a dissertation deadline at the end of July were recruited for the study. Inclusion criteria comprised studying in New Hunts House library between 11pm and 11am for at least 4 weeks.
The participants were found to have a mean Common Sense Index Score of < 2.
Methods and Procedure:
Several stress reducing techniques were implemented:
1) Sit-ups, push-ups and yoga in Guy’s Quad
This was a refreshing break, and was especially effective in increasing blood circulation to the brain. Furthermore, the privacy associated with night-time meant that passers-by did not throw the participants confused and judgemental looks. Based on anecdotal evidence, the author does not recommend wearing a skirt while performing headstands.
The resulting sense of warmth, love and oneness with nature helped cleanse the body and mind. However, some participants did not know where to draw the line and got a little carried away…
3) Caffeine and Sugar
Participants attempted to re-fuel and keep themselves awake with the help of vending machines. These were assumed to be functioning 24 hours a day.
However, the participants realised the importance of not making assumptions…
Participants were taught that it is crucial to following instructions after daringly drinking the coffee from machine 2, despite numerous warnings. The author recommends against ingesting flies as a source of protein.
Participants settled for purchasing refreshments from the friendly 24 hour Guy’s Hospital Coffee Shop.
4) Fox Chasing
This activity was found not only to be extremely stress-relieving, but also excellent for the cardiovascular system. Although yelling abuse while chasing foxes was reported to further reduce levels of stress, it resulted in the involved participant being teased by the others and being called names. This was not very nice.
5) Subject Love and Happiness
It was found that there was no substitute for actually loving the subject and being passionate about research and finding the truth. This made participants the most happy, and happiness makes the world go around, etcetera.
These techniques were moderately successful and all participants completed their dissertation to an acceptable standard. However, towards the end of the study, the participants had an epiphany that they could have probably got as much work done, enjoyed a much more convenient life, and not have continuously been judged by society, if they had just swapped around their ‘am’s and ‘pm’s.
Nocturnalism should be reserved for owls and people embarking on A Game of Thrones marathon.
Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits. A meta-analysis. Journal of psychosomatic research, 57(1), 35–43. doi:10.1016/S0022-3999(03)00573-7
Schwartz, J. E., Pickering, T. G., & Landsbergis, P. A. (1996). Work-related stress and blood pressure: Current theoretical models and considerations from a behavioral medicine perspective. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 1(3), 287–310.