Use Sleep To Your Advantage When Studying For Exams

Kids across the U.S. are wrapping up their school year.  While they’re obviously looking forward to summer vacation, many of them have one obstacle in the way — exams.

Cramming for exams is almost a rite of passage for high schoolers and even some middle school students, but it’s never been a good idea.  Unfortunately, what is often lost when a student is staying up all night to study (other than sleep) is many of the facts they’re trying to study in the first place.

Some of the most recent research indicates that while you’re sleeping, memories are organized in your brain.  So, it stands to reason that if you’re trying to learn something or at least remember it long enough to pass a test, becoming sleep deprived at the same time is counter-productive.  In fact, if you’re sleep deprived, you may do worse on the test than if you hadn’t studied at all, because you may forget not only the facts you studied, but the facts you already knew!

So, what’s the solution?

  • Plan ahead.  If you have a week until your test, study for a half an hour each night.  If you’re able, study shortly before bed, as the restorative sleep can actually help you retain the information.
  • Avoid studying in the early afternoon.  That’s the period of day when you’re likely to be less alert.
  • No matter what, make sure you get plenty of sleep on the night before your exam.  High school-aged students need about nine hours each night.  Walking into school bleary-eyed is a recipe for disaster.
  • Don’t overuse caffeinated drinks in an effort to stay alert.  Caffeine stays in your system for 6-8 hours, and can keep you from getting that good night’s sleep you need the night before.