How many times have we all pulled all-nighters during the exam season? Suddenly all that we don’t know in the exam curriculum starts feeling pivotal when the exams due the next day. This is the story of every student out there! You would drown yourself in caffeine to fight your exhaustion and cram all that you can from your syllabus before the exams.
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However, as much as your last-minute revision might seem crucial to you, it can have an adverse effect on your mental well-being and can leave you overwhelmed. Apart from a thorough revision of the syllabus, you would also need good sleeping habits to help you cope with exams. Depriving yourself of sleep continuously can also lead to insomnia or other sleep disorders that can hamper your overall well-being in the longer run.
Benefits of Sleeping 9 Hours Every Night
A good sleeping habit during exams has several benefits, some of which are:
The better the quality of sleep, the better the performance during exams as sleep improves the ability of your brain to retain information.
9 hours of uninterrupted sleep refreshes your mind and keeps you stress-free and relaxed.
It keeps your body and mind fully functional, active and healthy, and these are crucial for you during exams.
Insufficient rest can add stress to your already exhausted brain and impact your concentration levels during the exams. You would definitely need 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a day to keep your mind functional and active. This is especially crucial before exams as you need to remember all that you have learnt and be able to pen it down properly without losing focus. But we hear you! How can one sleep peacefully knowing there is an exam the next day, right? Here are some tips that can help you get you through your exams without compromising on your sleep.
Sleep Advice to Help you Cope with the Exam Stress
While last-minute cramming of your syllabus is not an effective way to learn, you cannot do without it. But here is some sleep advice to make the best out of your study time and also give your brain the rest it needs:
#1. Follow a Proper Study Schedule
Even if it is a last-minute revision, you need a proper timetable to get through it effectively. Ensure that your timetable is realistic and has adequate rest periods in between. Analyse the amount of revision that you would need and the time you have in hand before preparing your time table. Ensure that you have a minimum of 30 minutes of nap time to process the information and also to close your eyes for a bit. This way, you can retain all that you have just read and also give your brain some rest. Study in short bursts and take a break frequently. Remember, you are not learning anything new; you would just be revising all that you already know.
#2. Have a Sleep Curfew
There is a general tendency among students to lose count of time while they revise during exams. This would mean fewer hours of rest time and more stress. The best way to go about it is to be practical and set curfew time. Set your alarm half an hour before the curfew time and gradually slow down your learning process. This would calm your brain from the reading frenzy you were in some moments back and come back to a neutral zone so that you can sleep better. Turn off all electronic gadgets that you have been using as soon as the alarm goes off and try to remember all that you have revised so far. Prepare your brain for the impending bedtime and get it to wind down before hitting the bed.
#3. Know your Sleep Pattern and Plan Accordingly
While some students are efficient night owls, some others can focus better at dawn. Know your work pattern and plan your sleep schedule accordingly. There is absolutely no point keeping your books open when your brain is not prepared to focus. Planning your study time this way would ensure that you get the right amount of rest that can recharge your brain for the exams.
#4. All Study and Physical Activity can Make you Dull and Inefficient
Your body needs a bit of physical activity every day, and while you could be tempted to use those hours also for studies, you are not being fair to your body. Lack of physical activity can hamper your sleep pattern and make it extremely difficult for you to fall asleep. Take a break now and then and take a brisk walk around your house, do some small errands or even go out and play for some time. This will not only break your monotony but will also give your body its daily dose of physical activity.
#5. Go Easy on your Caffeine Intake
It is normal for students to increase their caffeine intake to resist sleep during exams. However, you need to understand that your brain is still tired, and by denying it the rest it needs, you are only adding to its burden. Ensure that you go easy on your caffeine intake, especially a few hours before your sleep time. This would gradually ease your brain into the sleep mode. Drinking too much caffeine can hamper your sleep pattern and can keep you awake throughout the night.
#6. Make your Surroundings Conducive to Sleep
Keep your smart devices away from your bedroom and switch off your bedroom lights 10-15 minutes before your actual sleep time. Having a good mattress helps in getting comfortable easily. It makes sense to stay out of your bedroom during study hours. Get yourself some other space inside your house that is out of distractions for your study. Your bedroom must be a place for you to relax and unwind, not a place to study.
As soon as your study time gets over, calm your senses by meditating or listening to soothing music. You can’t go from a study frenzy to complete sleep in a matter of minutes, and you need to prepare your body for the schedule. Don’t take your stress to bed. Instead, ruminate over all that you already know and fill your brain with positive thoughts.
It is OK if you can’t remember the answer you just memorised. It will all come back to you when you sit to write your exam. Take a deep breath and clear your mind off all the stress before going to bed. However, if you can’t still fall asleep, don’t force it. Try walking, or reading some light book for some time and as soon as you begin to yawn you can try falling asleep again.
#7. Eat a Balanced Meal and some Sleep-Inducing Food Before Bedtime
While it is essential to eat balanced meals every day, it is vital during exams. Having a meal that has good portions of necessary nutrients will give you the physical strength to cope with the exam stress. Eat good portions of breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the appropriate time to avoid indigestion or starvation. Keep yourself hydrated and eat complex carbohydrates that break down slowly to keep you satiated for longer hours. Like your reading schedule, your meal schedule is also significant for your overall well-being. Eating too late or too early can affect your sleep pattern and keep you awake.
Try to have food by 7pm and eat snacks after that to give your bowels the time to digest the food. Following this eating schedule will also keep you full and help you avoid unnecessary distractions during your study time. Along with this, eating sleep-inducing foods like almonds, walnuts, chamomile tea, kiwi, milk, and banana an hour before your bedtime can help you fall asleep quickly.
#8. Maintain a Good Posture
How you sit while you study matters a lot when it comes to your ability to memorise and retain the information that you learnt. We all know this. But what we don’t know is that it can also help you reduce your anxiety levels and feel more refreshed. The equation is pretty simple: The better your sitting posture is, the better would be your ability to revise and study, and the sooner you revise, the sooner you can wrap it up and sleep. It doesn’t make sense to sit in front of an open book when you are feeling sleepy or anxious. By sitting erect, you enable better circulation of blood to your brain, keeping it refreshed, active, and focused.
Good sleeping habits play a vital role in your performance and hence should be given equal priority during the exams. While it is completely okay to cut down one or a maximum of two hours from your daily sleep routine, you should make sure that the sleep you do get is completely uninterrupted and refreshing. Invest in a good mattress to ensure that you get your daily dose of uninterrupted sleep.
Ensure that you keep your nap time during the day for very short intervals and wrap up all your revisions way before your bedtime. Finally, always keep in mind the fact that what you haven’t learnt in a year, you won’t be able to achieve in a single night and you should focus more on retaining what you already know. In the end, how much you know doesn’t matter if your brain is not active enough to retain and remember it during your exams.
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