Do you ever catch yourself nodding off even though you have a test the next day?
If so, does that make you wonder how you can avoid sleepiness while studying?
As a student, I know schoolwork can tire you out. Studying requires a lot of concentration and time, especially during exam season.
It’s only natural for feelings of fatigue to kick in after staring at your computer for hours or reading over pages and pages of notes – even if you’re well-rested.
But remember, you’re studying for a reason.
You want to master the concepts and get good grades. If you fall asleep while studying, you’ll waste valuable time.
To help you out, I’ve come up with 13 ways to stay awake during these crucial times.
Follow these research-backed tips on how to avoid sleepiness while studying, and you’ll ace your exams!
(Make sure to download the free quick action guide below too.)
1. Get out of your comfort zone
As tempting as it may be to crawl into bed, get cosy, and start reading through your notes, avoid doing this. You’ve probably done this before and unintentionally fell asleep.
A variety of factors can affect your learning ability, including lighting and noise. An environment that promotes learning has been shown to motivate, engage, and increase the potential of students to learn.
So step outside of your comfort zone. Literally!
Avoid any place you associate with sleep or naps. Instead, venture to a café, a library, or even outside in nature to stimulate your mind and activate that “study time” state.
2. Watch your posture
Sitting upright while studying has been known to enhance concentration and decrease fatigue.
Adopt a comfortable seated position and hold your head up high.
According to Upright, approximately 100 billion neurons and 1,000 trillion synaptic connections are found in the human brain. Your brain relies on these neurons and synapses for memory, concentration, and information transmission.
You’ll focus better once you improve your posture, by also improving your body’s oxygen and blood circulation. In addition, sitting upright helps to prevent you from falling asleep.
3. Create a study strategy
Before you begin every study session, decide what you want to achieve during the session.
I recommend that you work in short, focused blocks of time of 30 to 40 minutes.
How does this method help you to avoid feeling sleepy while studying?
It allows you to devote your undivided attention to studying material for a set amount of time. You would also have specified exactly what material you intend to cover during the study session.
For example, you could break down the material into different sections and spend 30 minutes focused on each one.
Then you could take a break between each study session to recharge before diving into the next one.
Keep the breaks short – 5 to 10 minutes in general – so you stay on track to finish what you planned to work on.
4. Stay hydrated
The human brain is about 75% water.
When we don’t drink enough water, it leads to dehydration, which turns to fatigue, headaches, lack of mental clarity, stress, and sleep issues.
Of course, these are all issues that you want to avoid when studying.
Research shows that staying hydrated increases your academic performance. So always have a bottle of water next to you while studying to ensure that you stay hydrated.
5. Eat the right foods
If you want to feel energised and alert, choose a nutrient-rich diet high in protein to keep you going through your day (or night) of studying.
Add in fresh fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats to your diet too.
Healthy brain food for studying includes protein from sources like meat, eggs, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
6. Use active learning methods
If you just read your notes or textbook passively, you’re bound to feel sleepy. But if you learn the material actively, your concentration will improve.
Here are some active learning methods I recommend:
- Write down questions you have as you read
- Create summary notes for every topic
- Teach other people about what you’ve learned
- Discuss the topic with your classmates
- Think about real-world applications of what you’re learning
- Explore case studies related to the topic
7. Switch tasks periodically
Doing too much of one thing can become tedious.
That’s why switching up your tasks periodically can keep things interesting and prevent your mind from straying while you’re studying.
If you switch tasks too often (e.g. every 15 minutes or less), you’ll have difficulty concentrating deeply on the task at hand.
I recommend that you focus on one task for at least 30 to 40 minutes before changing to a different task.
You could begin with one “type” of studying, such as reading through your notes and highlighting the key points. Then you could move on to another type of studying where you complete a few practice problems.
If you use this approach while also applying methods that enable you to study smart, you’ll be on the right track!
8. Move your body
Daily exercise plays a big part in students’ mental and physical health. The benefits of physical activity are endless, from strengthening the body to refreshing the mind.
We are Fitness Freaks is an advocate of performing aerobic exercises to avoid feeling lethargic.
Starting your study session with a quick exercise like jumping jacks gets your heart rate up and improves your focus.
Adding jumping jacks to your daily routine elevates oxygen levels, boosts mental cognition, increases happiness, and enhances your overall performance.
9. Take power naps
You’ll be happy to hear that power naps are a good thing!
The health benefits of power naps include enhanced long-term memory, better logical reasoning, increased creativity, and improved cognitive performance.
The ideal time to take a power nap is between 12:30 pm and 2 pm. You’ll want to avoid taking one too late in the day because it will affect your ability to sleep later on.
But if you have no choice but to wait until later in the day, a 10-minute power nap is ideal and won’t mess up your sleep schedule.
10. Choose the right kind of lighting
Feeling sleepy while studying? Your choice of lighting could be an influencing factor.
Did you know that the colour of light that you use while studying can have an impact on your level of sleepiness?
LED Lighting Info states that cool light colours – blues and whites – are the best LEDs for studying. By mimicking daylight, they help you stay awake and focused.
You’ll feel more attentive and alert when studying under cooler colours.
But starting a few hours before bedtime, I recommend that you study under warmer colours, such as orange and red. This is so you won’t have trouble falling asleep.
11. Find a study buddy
Two minds are better than one – this also goes for motivation and moral support.
When you have a study buddy, you can motivate each other throughout your session. You can also test each other by asking questions and bouncing ideas off one another.
An advantage of this is that you’re less likely to fall asleep while studying in someone else’s company.
You’ll keep your mind stimulated and more alert. If you see your study buddy beginning to nod off, give them a gentle nudge and encourage them to keep going.
12. Prioritise quality sleep
It might be strange to see a tip related to getting more quality sleep on this list, but I put it here for a reason.
Quality sleep can do wonders for your study sessions. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults sleep between seven and nine hours per night.
This research study explored the relationship between sleep quality and academic performance in college students. The results showed that academic performance was positively correlated with longer sleep duration, higher sleep quality, and more consistency in sleep.
So make it a priority to get to bed at about the same time every night, and wake up naturally without an alarm whenever you can.
13. Use your finger or pen as a guide while reading
Sometimes, using a guide to focus on while you study can help you stay alert.
For example, try using a pen as a guide while reading a textbook or your notes. You can also use your finger or any other suitable item you have on hand.
This will help you to concentrate and will prevent you from daydreaming. Your reading efficiency will also increase!
Studying can be a tedious task that may cause students to feel tired and fatigued.
But if you want to learn as effectively as you can, then it’s vital to find an approach that works for you to avoid sleepiness.
By following the tips in this article to stay awake while studying, you’re sure to become a better student!