As the end of spring semester approaches, students at high schools and colleges will soon be preparing for a flurry of final exams and writing final papers.
The time crunch most students face at this time of year often prompts them to cut back on sleep just when they need it most. Consuming highly caffeinated drinks and pulling an all-night study session before an exam, for example, could actually work against a student’s chance of performing well on the test.
That’s because memory recall and the ability to maintain concentration are improved when an individual is well rested. Sleep deprivation, in contrast, has a negative impact on mood, energy level and the ability to focus, concentrate and learn — things that can make a big difference in academic performance.
So what’s a stressed-out student to do? Try following these Top 10 recommendations, gathered from several sources, including our Board-Certified sleep physicians:
- Strive to get a minimum and consistent amount of sleep each night, even if it’s not the recommended eight hours
- Take short power naps when possible to re-energize your body
- Try to study during times of optimal brain function (usually around 6-8 p.m.)
- Avoid studying in the early afternoon, when alertness tends to drop
- Take time to eat well, which can make your sleep more restful and productive
- Limit your caffeine intake and avoid caffeine late at night
- Devote a minimum of 15-30 minutes each day to exercise, which can increase your energy level
- Create a calming ritual and do it each night to get your brain ready for bed
- Put aside the smart phone and laptop so your brain can rest and recover
- Figure out how to avoid procrastinating so you don’t need to pull all-nighters
Sleep deficits, of course, aren’t limited to students. These suggestions are likely to benefit anyone who is exhausted and in desperate need of some zzzz’s.
What works best for you when it comes to maintaining healthy sleep habits during stressful times?