Since when do “sleep” and “finals” belong in the same sentence? By the end of the semester, it seems almost natural to swap sleep for study. While this may have earned you an “A” in the past, it’s not sustainable and can negatively alter your overall performance come test time.
Sleep deprivation leads to less efficient learning, higher emotionality, increased anxiety, and a less efficient brain. Ultimately, getting enough sleep is the best thing you can do for yourself during finals week. Therefore, cut back on the caffeine, establish a sleep schedule, and feel well-rested by the time you’re sitting down for your first exam.
Let’s look at 10 simple ways to get more sleep this finals week.
1. Reset your body clock
It’s no surprise that our bodies desire consistent sleep patterns. While the amount of sleep varies based on the individual, it’s a great habit to establish a sleep schedule. Try setting your alarm for the same time each morning and going to bed around the same time each night. This helps your body get into the groove of a routine to have you feeling well rested by the time your alarm goes off.
2. Avoid all-nighters
In reality, no one wants to pull all-nighters. They’re simply the result of procrastination and actually do more harm than good. After staying up all night, you’re less likely to remember everything you were trying to study and your ability to reason may be impaired from lack of sleep. You should aim to get at least four hours of sleep the night before any test. Besides, doesn’t your bed sound way more appealing than another energy drink?
3. Nourish your body
Hours of studying may have you consuming ungodly amounts of caffeine while maintaining a strict vending-machine diet. It’s vital to stay hydrated and consume full meals regardless of how long you’re sitting in the library. When your brain is functioning on a full reserve of water, you think faster, are more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity. Neglecting to properly nourish your body will cause it to crash, ultimately disrupting your mood and sleep patterns. Use your study breaks as an opportunity to eat something substantial so you’ll have enough energy throughout the day.
4. Study on Sundays
I know what you’re thinking: why would you ever give up a day of your weekend to study? Though Sunday may be a day of rest, it’s not a bad idea to carve out some time to prepare for the week ahead. Reviewing material before Monday also helps open up some free time during the week as well as provide time-management insight. Above all, you’ll be able to cross one more thing off your to-do list to ensure you’re getting enough rest during the week.
Did you know that just 30 minutes of cardio can actually improve your memory? Whether you’re jogging, dancing, or walking, the point is to take a short study break to get moving. Releasing endorphins helps maintain productivity and keeps you in a good mood. Taking some time to exercise also helps improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and relieve anxiety. If you feel like you don’t have enough time to spare, you can always bring your study material to the gym or create some study audio you can listen to on the go.
6. Unplug before bed
We’ve all been there: mindlessly scrolling through our news feed before bed only to realize we’ve stayed up way longer than anticipated. Electronics emit a blue hue that is similar to daylight. Looking at your electronics before bed not only makes it harder to fall asleep but also impacts how alert you are the next day. Make a conscious effort to avoid the use of light-emitting screens before bedtime. Treat your bed as a sanctuary for sleep and engage in other restful activities like reading or meditating.
Finals week is undoubtedly one of the most stressful times of the school year and, in turn, can interrupt how well you’re sleeping. It can be difficult to keep calm and carry on when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Finding time to partake in some de-stressing activities will benefit your overall well-being. Try taking a yoga class, exploring aromatherapy, or treating yourself to a warm bath. During finals week, schools will often offer free massages, puppy play dates, and other on-campus activities to help minimize your stress. Find something you’ll enjoy, and relax—you deserve it.
8. Keep your room cool
Perhaps you’ve never thought twice about the temperature in your room or how it’s affecting your sleep patterns. For optimal sleep, specialists recommend a room temperature of between 60 and 67 degrees to stimulate the production of melatonin. Once we lay down to rest, our body temperature naturally drops, igniting our instinct to sleep. So the next time you get ready for bed, turn down your thermostat and see how long it takes you to drift off to dreamland.
9. Use your bed solely for sleep
While your bed may seem like the most appealing place to start studying, think again. Studying in bed can limit focus, decrease your productivity, and inhibit your sleep. It’s important to distinguish where you sleep from where you study or else you may end up falling asleep while you’re studying. If your goal is to study somewhere comfortable, look into setting up a hammock outside or laying a blanket out at the park. If you inevitably fall asleep, allow yourself to take a nap before you start a study session. There’s no shame in a little snooze.
10. Plan ahead
Time management is the most obvious key to success. Take the time to plan out a schedule that is realistic. Allow yourself time to do the things you want while still dedicating some time to study. Don’t feel obligated to attend every end of the year event that will sabotage your schedule and sacrifice sleep. Focus on what you need to do to finish and plan accordingly. The finish line is in sight!
Studying takes time and commitment; however, there’s no need to neglect your regular self-care regiments come finals week. Don’t think of sleep as the enemy, for it is necessary for success. It is the time for the brain to consolidate memories of what we studied and learned that day. Therefore, listen to your body and allow yourself to rest. Best of luck on all of your end-of-the-year endeavors and may the odds be ever in your favor!
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