Studying is the cornerstone of college life. And whether we like it or not, it pretty much sums up the college experience. Let’s face it. There is rarely, if ever, a student who successfully makes it through school without spending some quality time in their books.
Unfortunately, for most of us this is when exhaustion tends to creep in; yawning at our ears, and tugging at the sheets. Sounds familiar? We thought so…
So how do you keep up the good fight against sleep, in the name of academia? Here are eight tips to help the exhausted student light the midnight candle without burning out.
1. Start Early
Starting early means you never have to worry about rushing to the finish line. Slow and steady wins this one. You also escape the stress of knowing you might not get done in time.
Starting early allows you to spend shorter time periods on studying, and gives you enough time to properly digest the information. And of course, you can cover the information in more detail before exhaustion strikes.
2. Change it Up
You don’t have to repeat the same process each year, semester or even for each course. There is no guarantee that what worked last semester will work for this one. When that happens, find a new game plan.
Take a look at how much work you’ll need to cover for each course, and make a study plan. A plan ensures you’re working smarter, not harder. And when you’re tired and strapped for time, this is super important.
3. Understanding > Remembering
Try to understand the material, instead of just forcing yourself to remember it. It’s much easier to answer questions on an exam sheet, if we actually understood the work, and didn’t just commit some random words to memory.
4. Take Breaks
Don’t punish yourself to avoid guilt. If you find yourself so tired you’ve been reading the same sentence for an hour, take a break or a nap. The sooner you refresh your body and mind, the sooner you can get back to productive studying.
Schedule breaks if you have to. After a few hours, no matter how disciplined you are, your attention will wane. That leaves the door open for boredom. Boredom and fatigue will inevitably result in sleeping.
5. Get a Boost
If you drink coffee to stay awake, try having the coffee prior to taking a nap. By the time the coffee kicks in, you’ll feel rested and ready to tackle your studies again.
When it comes to the rest of your diet, try going for small, frequent, energy-providing meals and snacks. No one wants to cook during exam season. We get it.
But try to ensure snacks and meals are rich in fruits and vegetables that will provide energy. Keep in mind that heavy meals can make us feel lethargic.
6. Take Your Vitamins
The exam period is the time to bump up our vitamin intake, as this is when you need the benefits the most.
But don’t wait until exams to try new supplements. The last thing you want is to realize that while a specific brand of vitamins keeps everyone else up, it makes you sleepy!
7. Get Moving
Move around frequently. When you’re exhausted, you’re more likely to fall asleep if you’ve been sitting in the same position for the past three or four hours. Stand up sometimes. Pace the room while trying to remember information.
8. Find a Study Buddy
Many people get turned off from group study after the horrors of group work. But group study can help keep you focused on the goal, by giving you someone else to measure your understanding and progress against. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy rival!
We have all had to study through exhaustion a few times in our life. The best way to get through it is to start early, never lose sight of your health, and find a study strategy that works for you.
About the Author
Shandean Williams-Reid is a freelance Business Analyst from Kingston, Jamaica. She is passionate about reading, family life and her adventures as a new mom. She’s recently started blogging. Catch her on Instagram and Twitter.
This post is the first February submission for the Monthly College Mate Writing Contest.