College students often look for a competitive edge on exams. For many, stimulants such as Adderall that are designed to increase wakefulness may seem like a tempting solution.

But to students hoping to “improve intellectual performance” or become “awesome at everything” by popping pills, neuroscientist Sara C. Mednick says not so fast. A recent study she conducted at the University of California, Irvine, suggests that the drugs are a poor substitute for sleep and do not confer an advantage as a result.

Also today:

Top story

Some college students take stimulants to cram for exams, but studies suggest that has little positive effect. Geo Martinez/

Stimulants: Using them to cram for exams ruins sleep and doesn’t help test scores

Sara C. Mednick, University of California, Irvine

Students looking to gain an academic edge by taking stimulants such as Adderall fail to do better on tests and also mess up their sleep. A neuroscientist explains why.

Politics + Society

Environment + Energy

Science + Technology

  • Why a computer will never be truly conscious

    Subhash Kak, Oklahoma State University

    Brain functions integrate and compress multiple components of an experience, including sight and smell – which simply can't be handled in the way computers sense, process and store data.


Economy + Business

Arts + Culture

Health + Medicine

Most read on site

Today’s chart

Forward this email to your friends
Ask them to sign up at