Health & Fitness

How To Avoid Sleepiness When Studying

September 28, 2022   By Clarisa Mcdonald

Like every other student in university or high school, you may be gearing up for your upcoming exams. You have your notes, books, and other study materials ready. You may even have your snacks and coffee. You have everything you need, but then sleepiness strikes exactly at crucial moments of your study sessions.

Many students have fallen prey to the unpredictable nature of feeling tired and sleepy. At the moment when you think you can stay awake, your eyelids suddenly begin to drop, your neck relaxes, and you slip into darkness.

Let’s take a look at how you can get up from your seat, be more alert and how to avoid sleep while studying.

Causes of Sleep While Studying

No Sleep for the Busy

There can be several reasons for your lethargy, and one of them is sleep deprivation.

Have you been pulling all-nighters lately? The next day it’s likely you’ll lack the strength to stay awake for the entire day and you’ll struggle to function normally.

When you lose sleep at night, your body tries to make up for the loss the next day. The more you go on staying awake, the stronger the urge to sleep will get.

Sleep That Gives No Rest

Another reason might be bad sleep quality. Students may try to get sufficient sleep, but they sometimes wake up in the middle of the night. Others experience shallow sleep only. By the next morning, the result is the same. The stress of your exams could be the reason behind your disrupted sleep.

When you wake up feeling heavy and still lacking rest despite sleeping 7-8 hours, it means that you did not have a good sleep. Without it, you end up staying sleepy during the day, especially when studying.

Ineffective Student Practices

Now, high school and college students have questionable ways to stay awake. Like everyone else, you probably drink a cup of coffee, some tea, or cans of energy drinks for that boost in alertness through caffeine. 

You may listen to loud music, or even keep some snacks within reach for something to munch on. Chewing gum is another great option.

Caffeinated drinks, music, and snacks are all good quick fixes but aren’t long-lasting. You don’t have to stop doing these things, but there are better methods for staying awake. 

Caffeine, music, and snacks, coupled with sleep deprivation or poor sleep, may delay falling asleep, but it’s inevitable. You will find yourself falling asleep during your studies one way or another.

Sleep Enough and Sleep Well

So, how do we stop feeling tired and sleepy when studying? You have to address the causes, which means sleep deprivation, poor sleep, or both.

Sleep Seven to Eight Hours

First things first, you need enough rest for your studies. Schedule your sleep so you get around seven to eight hours per day, as recommended by sleep experts. Early to bed, early to rise is a great saying and way to sleep, but it isn’t for everyone.

The life of a student means you’re probably a night owl, which will factor into your regular sleep schedule. Nonetheless, aim for seven to eight hours, although you can adjust your schedule to let you sleep later into the night and wake up later in the day.

Develop habits during exam preparation that would let you focus more on your studying than anything else. Turn off your phone’s alerts and notifications, forget first what’s trending on your Twitter feed and just focus on studying, this allows you to get rid of the distractions and effectively maximize your study time without keeping you awake all night.

Keep it consistent as well. Try to sleep at the same time every day, and wake up at the same time every morning. This routine will allow your body to adjust and keep you alert for long hours and to help build a healthy sleep pattern.

Naps for Emergency Sleep

Sleepiness can still get the best of you, despite seven or eight hours of sleep. When you need it the most, try going for a quick power nap. Short naps benefit your brain since they allow it to reset for a little bit.

Keep your napping strictly to ten or twenty minutes to avoid drowsiness. Use it only as a last resort when you have to take short breaks. Stand up and move around when you feel sleepy, but if that’s not enough, napping will be your ticket to a refreshed mind.

If you have time, have an afternoon nap for 90 minutes. Studies show that a 90-minute break is the exact amount of time your body needs to experience a full sleep cycle. You then get most of the benefits in a short amount of time.

Eat Healthy Food and Snacks

Another thing to consider is what you’re eating when you’re studying. Students tend to eat easy-to-cook meals, processed foods or plenty of takeouts, yet these can do little for your brain or productivity when you are studying.

Try incorporating more home-cooked meals instead, filled with vegetables and fruits. Other options are to munch on some nuts and granola for snacks. 

A balanced diet will help give your brain a long-term boost in retention and alertness. You will find yourself more focused whenever you studying and even during exam time.

If you want to study in the afternoon or evening, eat a lighter meal. Heavy meals can make you feel bloated, which can then lead to feeling tired. If you’re still hungry, fruits, granola and nuts are the perfect nutritious snacks.

Remember to drink lots of water throughout your study session. Instead of chugging coffee or energy drinks, it will be better for you to keep drinking water. Water is essential to the brain and your body. When you drink water, you fuel yourself for a late-night study. 

Exercise at the Right Time

Exercise is an incredible way to boost energy levels throughout the day, especially if done in the morning. 

Physical activity such as sports, running, or something as simple as a long walk acts as a natural booster to your body’s alertness and energy levels. You’ll notice that you immediately feel more energised and able to take on the day if you exercise in the morning. Just a few jumping jacks right after you get out of bed can help kick in energy upon waking up.

It’s better to avoid exercise in the afternoon or at night time unless you’re keen for that all-nighter. Since it is a source of energy, exercising can keep you awake and cause sleep deprivation, particularly if it’s right before sleep. 

As a bonus, exercise helps with sleep quality too. You fall asleep faster and wake up less in the middle of the night. You also go into a deep sleep, a phase of sleep where your body rests and rejuvenates itself. Come morning and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go. 

Little Changes to Avoid Sleepiness

There are some other small changes that can help get you through study time, including keeping bright lights turned on in your room, not just your table lamp. An abundance of lights simulates daytime, which keeps your mind and body alert.

Join a study group so that you have others to keep you in check. You can keep each other accountable and being in a group will help you stay awake.

Keep your phone far from you as you study too. Otherwise, you might end up on social media, wasting precious study time. With sleep deprivation or low sleep quality, scrolling on your phone might make you even more tired. If you need your phone, you can use an application to minimise distractions.

Ready to Study!

With these simple steps and study tips, you can reduce the effects of sleep deprivation and promote good quality sleep. You can study more and study effectively, without falling asleep, and you’ll be ready to perform on exam day

On a final note, crush those exams!

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