Let’s face it: For students who balance work and family life with their education, finding time for schoolwork often means fitting study sessions into an already full schedule. This can lead to a lot of late nights (and early mornings!). When this is the case, keeping yourself energized and focused is crucial.
Late-night studying isn’t always the most enjoyable way to spend an evening, but these tips can help you stay on task and make the most of your time.
1. Avoid the Sugar Crash
While it may be tempting to give yourself a sugary boost of energy to keep yourself going, it may not be the best idea. We’re all familiar with the “crash” that occurs after ingesting too much sugar, and how it can leave you feeling more fatigued then when you started.
Instead of reaching for a sugary soda or a sweet treat for a pick-me-up, try something that your body may not react to quite so severely. Green tea, for example, contains healthy antioxidants and typically has less caffeine than a cup of coffee. Nuts and other high-protein snacks can be a great way to keep your energy levels up without the crash that comes with carbohydrate-heavy options.
2. Stay Hydrated
How many times have you started a late-night study session by putting on a pot of coffee? Coffee is practically a staple of studying, but make sure you’re not neglecting to drink plenty of water as well.
Mild dehydration comes with a host of side effects, including headaches, degraded mood and loss of concentration1. Even one of these side effects can greatly affect your ability to study and retain information, so staying properly hydrated is a smart start.
3. Get Moving
Finding a comfortable study space is important, but you don’t want to get too comfortable. If you find yourself getting drowsy while studying late at night, take a break and get your body moving. Stretch your muscles, limber up, and even do some light cardio to get your heart rate up. Spending a few minutes engaging your body can do wonders for shaking off fatigue.
4. Reevaluate Your Study Space
The difference between an effective study space and a poor one can be night and day. If you find that studying in the same spot during the day and late at night is producing dramatically different results, it may be time to reevaluate your workspace. For example, if the primary source of lighting during the day is natural, at night you may want to move to an area with stronger lighting. Studying in bed during the day may not be an issue, but consider switching to a less casual study location in the evenings. Taking an objective look at your surroundings can help you identify things that are contributing to fatigue and drowsiness.
5. Give Yourself a Break
It can be tempting to try to push through your responsibilities in order to get everything done, but it may not be the best decision. We’re all human, after all, and our bodies and minds need rest and the occasional distraction. If you’ve been studying late into the night and get the urge to check Facebook or watch a YouTube video, don’t fight it. Go ahead and indulge by giving yourself a short distraction. As long as you keep the break short and don’t overdo it, it can be a great opportunity to refresh yourself before diving back in.
Interested in more study tips? Read our College Success blog.
1. American Society for Nutrition, Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women, on the Internet at http://jn.nutrition.org/content/142/2/382.full (visited on April 1, 2016).