Sometimes, regardless of how much coffee I’ve had or how interesting you try to convince yourself that textbook is, your eyelids just seem magnetized. Not to worry, we’ve all been there and here are StudyingTV’s sure-fire tips to stay awake while studying without a massive Starbucks bill.
If you haven’t already make sure you’re controlling the numbers of hours you try to study for. Far too many people attribute the numbers of hours spent at the desk to performance. It is not about the amount of time you spend studying – it’s about the quality of the studying. This is why we suggest this audiobook to get twice the results in half the time.
Falling asleep while studying can be attributed to a lot of factors, such as having had a long tiring day at work or at school or having to study an extremely boring concept. It’s basic biology, your brain doesn’t like expending energy and (unsurprisingly) studying requires mental energy.
The worst part about struggling to stay awake is probably the fact that it severely interrupts your studying, thus affecting your ability to retain information that you will need in any forthcoming tests or examinations. Below are some worthwhile tips to help you maneuver any sleep attacks that may come your way when studying.
Setting a Schedule With Short Term Goals
You should do this anyway, but for staying awake it’s good to have an end point in sight.
We talk a lot about setting goals while studying and we mean both long and short-term goals. Getting x amount of topics covered in a month is good but knowing what you’re going to study that morning is better.
And – no – planning to sit at the desk for x amount of hours is not a goal. Clearly define what you’re going to actually get done and stop when you’re finished.
It is often said that setting goals helps transform the invisible to the visible. There is no better way to ensure that you stay focused throughout your study session than having set time goals. It goes without saying that if you are completely focused and with an end goal envisioned, nothing can distract you, not even sleep. You can do this by simply picking out the topics you need to have completed by the end of your study session. You will find that this will both keep you on your toes and awake.
Maintain (or Start) a Healthy Diet
We often suggest snacking while you study to keep energy levels up. But this doesn’t mean just eating junk food (although, I’ll admit to using a bowl of ice cream as an incentive to finish a particularly boring session).
If you want to stay alert when studying, you need to ensure that the foods you are eating are nutrient rich. Proteins have been described as energy-giving foods, and you thus have to make sure your diet is protein rich. You can add things such as low-fat cheese, eggs, and sprouts to your diet to ensure you are getting enough protein. If you need a sugar boost, it is advisable to eat fruits that are rich in natural sugars such as citrus fruits and apples. Additionally, if you are going to study at night, you might want to have a light supper to avoid getting overloaded which consequently leads to sleepiness.
Take Breaks (No doi, but in the right way)
I cannot emphasize this more, take breaks! Nothing gets more boring and straining than monotonous studying, you need to shake things up a little.
Everyone knows this part, right? But here’s the thing. If you take say a 10-minute break every half hour – the vast majority of people I see in study sessions just continue to sit on their laptop or phone. Maybe checking out Facebook or Instagram (I mean at least check out our Facebook or IG)!
You need to take a proper break.
During this breaks, you can do something to rejuvenate your body. For instance, you could have a power nap, do some stretches, call a friend (heck, call your mother she worries)!
Have a Well Lit Study Environment
I’ve droned on about finding (or making) the right study environment so many times that alone is probably enough to put you to sleep. But for good reason – it matters.
Researchers say that studying in a well-lit room may trick your circadian rhythm into thinking that it is still daytime, thus helping you stay awake for longer periods of time. Staying awake while studying can be hard enough and this is (usually) one of the easiest things to change so take the easy win.
Switch Up Your Study Topics
Again, long hours of monotony are bound to make you sleepy. You can negate the effects of this by simply rotating study topics regularly, to avoid mental exhaustion. You do not have to wait till when you feel jaded to move on to another topic, you can simply incorporate this into your study schedule.
Make sure your study plan accounts for this when possible but if you’re really struggling with a topic near the end of a session then you’re probably not going to retain much anyway. Take a note of where you need to pick up from and finish the session with an easier topic.
What this means is that no matter how much the bed and the couch are calling out to you, you need to resist! Ensure you sit upright on a good seat. The idea is to not get too comfortable and hence eventually doze off.
I know Instagram is full of cool looking photos of people studying from a bean bag or hammock. It looks appealing but when your in that position, you know what else is appealing? Closing your eyes just for a moment…
Another way of tricking your body into thinking it needs to be awake. Oh there’s food coming? Better be ready for it. Plus – minty breath!
Just don’t stick it under the desk after you’re done with the study session, alright?
Coffee and Energy Drinks (Sort Of)
Right, so there’s usually a lot of disagreement on this one. Some will down mug after mug. Others will avoid it like the plague.
Caffeine is proven to increase your alertness. If I’m on a late night session I can tell the difference in my results are miles different when I have a coffee with me.
However, you need to avoid a sugar crash. I, like a lot of people, love a little sugar or syrup in my coffee but too much of this is going to cause me to crash on top of my textbooks and completely outweigh the benefits of the caffeine.
I mean, we should really be doing this for our health anyway but most of us suck at that. Here’s just an extra incentive – it’ll help you stay awake in the short term too.
While coffee and energy drinks have often been praised for helping you stay awake when studying, people often forget the most rudimentary beverage: water. A 2013 study conducted in London revealed that drinking water helps improve brain function tenfold, because dehydration shrinks the brain, literally. That being said, ensure you take numerous glasses of water when studying to remain alert!
Find a Study Group (Ideally an Awake One)
I have honestly seen an entire study group dozing around a library table once. To this day, I still wonder what they were studying.
Note: We always say studying solo is more productive but the odd study session can be one way to mix it up and it’s certainly a good way to stay awake and be held accountable for your session.
When studying with a bunch of people, it is easy to remain focused as you will all be holding each other accountable. However, you need to be very specific when choosing a study group. You don’t want to join a study group where you will tend to veer off from studying and start discussing other things. In short, ensure your study group is not composed of people who will distract you. Your study group needs to maintain high levels of discipline to ensure it serves its purpose.
Now if you’ve made it to the end of this page without falling asleep you’re probably going to manage to make it through even the most boring study session. So as a reward I’m going to show you this free audiobook on massively improving your studying ability. It’s about working smart – not hard!