Cramming at the last minute for tests is a staple of college life. It is a rare student who has never stayed up all night studying. Some students procrastinate and put things off until the last possible minute because of busy social schedules or they feel that they perform better under pressure. The resulting exhaustion can wear you down and prevent peak performance. A few simple steps can help you to stay alert so you can keep studying even when you are mentally exhausted.
If you are struggling to stay awake, try adjusting your environment. Turn on lights. Change your seating to a different position. Using a standing desk instead of a chair is one option. Use a fan to circulate the air or turn on the air conditioning. If the temperature is too warm, you may become sleepy. A too-quiet environment can also contribute to sleepiness. Try turning on music to introduce sound to your surroundings.
Change Study Subjects
Another way to stay awake for studying is to alternate subjects. If you have different projects or exams to study, change what you are reading or reviewing at least once an hour so you don't get burned out studying the same material. Go back and review previous assignments and notes to vary your studying materials as well.
Don't Study Alone
Try studying with a friend or a group. You can quiz each other and help keep each other more alert. A bonus can be that the process is more enjoyable. Just make sure you actually study rather than getting distracted by the chance to socialize.
As you study, stretch is another option to help you stay awake with a short break once every hour. Even a few minutes of exercise can get your blood circulating and rev your metabolism so you don't feel so exhausted. Staying in the same position to study can tire you out. Spacing out studying time can help keep your mind and body more alert. However, do not lie down as you might fall asleep.
Get a Snack
Eating a snack is another way to keep studying even when you are tired. Choose your snack option carefully. Make sure it is something fairly healthy, such as fruit, cheese, crackers or veggies with dip. Granola, nuts or protein bars also offer other excellent snack choices. Avoid sugary foods as these can cause an energy spike and quick drop in your blood sugar which may leave you even more tired than when you began studying.
Drink coffee or cola or another energy beverage. While this step does not offer a long-term solution and should be used sparingly, caffeinated beverages can help you over the hump should you need to pull an all-nighter.
Set Study Goals
To avoid all-nighters or late studying in the future, learn from your studying pattern mistakes. Instead of ending up exhausted and studying at the last minute, instead try avoiding the situation altogether by setting study deadlines, outlining a practical plan for exam preparation and spacing out your studying over the semester.
While you are trying to keep studying even through your fatigue, avoid taking drugs like amphetamines. The negative effects of taking drugs far outweigh any slight advantage you may gain from their use.
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