Friday, November 01, 2013

Don't Let Your Studies Put You To Sleep

Once students enter high school, and certainly after starting college, late night study sessions become at least an occasional necessity. As a red-eye session grows longer and the body and mind increasingly tire, the law of diminishing returns eventually sets in, reducing the benefit of additional study. Before fatigue and stress combine to turn your brain to cardboard, it's good to learn a few key tips about how to avoid falling victim to "sudden brain shutdown syndrome."

In essence, the rule is to do that which is most likely to put you to sleep as early as possible in the day. If you've got a lot of boring reading to get out of the way, or need to complete some hideous math homework that makes you want to do almost anything else instead, be sure to do these things while you're fresh and wide awake, resisting the temptation to put these off until the wee hours of the evening when you can barely keep your eyelids up as it is. Uninteresting, yawn-inducing activities most likely to put you to sleep should be done as far from sleep time as possible, saving more engaging or physical activities like lab experiments, model-building, or group collaboration for later in the evening when extra interaction or increased interest will help you stay awake.

If there's just no way to avoid dull, passive activities late at night, consider moving your studies temporarily to a coffee shop or similar gathering place where the buzz of people around you will help keep your eyes open and prevent "zombie brain" without so distracting you that you can't hear yourself think.

It's a good maxim to live by, anyway: do the stuff you don't like first, then reward yourself with the cool stuff afterward. The willingness to delay gratification yields even greater benefit for busy, semi-exhausted students who must find a way to get an impossible amount of work done and yet remain conscious and functional while doing it all.


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