Studying: How sleep is the answer

Previously we have talked about the benefits of sleep, and how additional sleep correlates to better grades. But how can one use sleep to improve studying? There are hundreds of existing methods that students of all ages use in order to study for a quiz or a test. Although the subject, time to prepare, and difficulty of the test can vary, when it comes to studying, some things never change, and some strategies always prove to be significantly more effective than others. One of these things that doesn’t change is the fact is that in every class, there are students who wait until the last minute, and try to cram information into their brain. However, multiple studies can prove this method to be extremely ineffective. The primary misconception that people have when it comes to studying for an exam is the value of sleep. On countless occasions, and even within your family, it is very likely that as a result of a lack of time, or more commonly, multiple days of procrastination, someone you know has been sitting at their desk with less than 24 hours left until their exam, with little to no knowledge about the test they are taking. As a result, they attempt to cram information into their brain, and hardly getting any sleep, as opposed to getting a good night’s sleep, although not getting as much time to study. However, multiple studies have shown that on little sleep, the brain’s system of recollection is much weaker, and all the “cramming” may as well have gone to waste, as it becomes much tougher to remember what you have studied. This can be further supported by a study performed by a teacher at Baylor University, who “bribed” his students to get more sleep by offering them extra credit for getting at least 8 hours of sleep the night before an exam, as opposed to the average 5-6 hours of sleep that most of them were getting. This promoted the students to get more sleep, and as a result, the students who got sleep were more successful on the test, and on the next exam, without any incentives, once again got more sleep. In addition, cramming for a test is generally studying in one, long interval. As one can imagine, the productivity behind this method is not very high. In recent years, an increased amount of students have used the Pomodoro Method, in which students work for a period that is usually between 25 and 45 minutes (the average time in which the brain is able to fully focus on a task) and then take a 5 minute break. Although it may take a bit of diligence, the breaks allow for one’s brain to reset their focus, and get work done at a much more efficient rate. Ultimately, regardless of the circumstances, and whether or not you procrastinate or not, if you can prioritize your sleep, and maximize your efficiency, you may find studying for tests much easier, and more importantly, more stress-free. So next time create a study plan, don't cram and most importantly make sure to get a good night of sleep.