Getting as much revision as possible crammed in before an exam is something we have all been guilty of in the past, but getting a good night's sleep may be more beneficial to the outcome than cramming in last minute exam prep.
Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute, recently talked to the Huffington Post about the importance of sleep coming into an exam. According to Dr Oexman, university students are one of the most sleep-deprived demographics in our population, and far too many believe they can get by on little sleep or not enough quality sleep.
But when it comes to mental stamina, getting sleep is one of the most important attributes you can have. Maximising how well you learn or even how long you learn is all about getting the right amount of sleep. Research over time has consistently highlighted that taking time to sleep before an exam will benefit your test score a lot more than four or five hours of staying awake staring at notes that you will not remember.
Indeed, the National Institutes of Health recently published research finding that sleep deprived students have a lower GPA because it impacts memory and concentration.
In order to buck this trend and achieve the best grades possible, Dr Oexman has recommended eight tips that will help you succeed through sleep. His first recommendation is making the bedroom a sleep-centric place. This is particularly important in relation to electronics, which are an ever focal part of student digs. Blue light emitted from computers, smart phones, and tablets hurts natural sleep processes, and should all be shut off before you settle down at night.
Eight hours may seem like a warned out concept now, but it is that figure for a reason. Setting up a routine that allows for eight hours of sleep at night is crucial. This allows your brain to prepare for sleep and maximise the type of rest you get during the night. Routine is a requisite here, and getting eight hours when you can will diminish the effects it has.
Snacking is difficult to avoid, especially when you are a student, but you should get smart about when you snack in order to get the most out of the night. Foods that are good in assisting study periods and wont impact sleep are low-calorie non-caffeinated foods, such as sunflower seeds, which will keep you awake later on but will not disrupt your sleep when it comes to putting your head down.
This applies to all stimulants, and it may not shock most students to learn that most stimulants come in liquid form. Excessive coffee, energy drinks and alcohol all impact sleep and will also impact your ability to process and learn information you have taken in. It should go without saying that certain illegal stimulants are also going to impact your ability to retain information and sleep well at night.
REM is key to exam success, and by this we do not mean blurring out tracks from the popular American rock band. No, we mean REM the sleep stage, which is the point at which your mind shuts off and is completely rested. In order to achieve this sleep state, you must ensure that you get at least six hours of good quality sleep.
Getting the right level of quality sleep can often be impacted by university sleep patterns and also university surroundings. Living in dorms or even in student houses, you are likely to be subjected to noisy house parties and loud noises throughout the night. To deflect these exterior sounds, use eye masks and earplugs to drown out the light and noise. You will be amazed how this can impact your sleep and your grades.
If you get enough sleep at night, the amount of time you need to sleep in the day will be significantly lowered. This is a good thing. Napping can be ok, but you should keep it to 30 minutes or less.
Keeping yourself active through exercise and activities will ensure that the need to nap is reduced, and will also help how well you sleep at night. Additionally, exercise is a fantastic way of keeping you mentally in tune, which will add to the chances of exam success.