May is a time that many of us look forward to, as it brings with it bank holidays and the first signs of summer, but for the younger generation it means one thing: exam season.
From SATs right through to undergraduate exams, May is a period of time that involves studying, studying and studying some more – and sleep can often be overlooked. Whether it’s staying up working into the night, or lying in bed worrying about the work that has yet to be done, it’s no secret that exam season has an impact on sleep.
Silentnight’s sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, has put together her top tips to help students of all ages make it through exam season.
Allow yourself to take breaks
Our ability to concentrate runs in cycles of roughly 90 minutes. After this time, the working memory in the prefrontal cortex shuts down and we stop retaining information; so don’t feel guilty for stepping away from the desk. Just a quick 5-10 minute break can help to ‘unload’ the working memory, allowing us to come back to the task focused and raring to go again.
Taking a nap might seem like surprising advice for boosting productivity, but taking time out to sleep can have a big impact on how much you get done, since you’ll wake up feeling rejuvenated and more energised. Naturally, most of us have a dip in energy
levels around 3pm, so if you find yourself losing concentration, this is the perfect time to take a quick power nap.
Eat more chocolate
Chocolate releases endorphins which act as a natural stress fighter, and those which contain over 70% cocoa fight the stress hormone cortisol and have an overall relaxing effect on the body – so keep some handy when revising as a reward.
Know your limits
When it comes to studying, the desire to do well and soak in as much knowledge as possible can be overpowering but it is important to recognise your limits. Set yourself realistic targets with regards to what you’d like to achieve that day. You’re not going to memorise a full textbook in one day, so admit defeat where necessary and get some well-earned rest.