We can only take so much punishment. For instance, staying awake well into the night to study is counter-productive for most people – they are so tired that little information is absorbed, and sleep, when it eventually comes, is disturbed. Better to get some quality slumber and tackle the reading tomorrow.
It’s equally important not to ignore signs of flagging during those hours when you do have to work, study, or attend classes. Our fears often govern our decisions, and if those fears include exam failure, those decisions are likely to include sacrificing breaks, proper meals, exercise, and sleep in favour of endless studying – depleting energy resources further.
Leading a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be regarded as a luxury or reward. Keep your energy levels up. If necessary, snack at your desk, and take regular breaks, even if they just involve 10 minutes of listening to inspiring music between sections of a particularly heavy textbook – your eyes will be grateful. Above all, get your sleep. A short walk or deep breathing exercises before you settle down will help you get to sleep faster and wake up brighter.
Think happy thoughts
We all need to unwind – yet students can be remarkably masochistic about relaxing. Once you understand when your body tends to tire, build recreation into your study schedule, free of guilt. It might be one favourite tune each hour on the hour, or a less disciplined regime of turning to the latest chapter in the novel you’ve been denying yourself, or playing one level of a computer game when you finally comprehend a tricky piece of theory or solution to a past exam question. Look forward to activities such as cleaning or cooking instead of seeing them as chores.
Explore the hobby or sport you have neglected or have been meaning to tackle, and try to claim at least one morning each weekend to indulge in it – time that’s just for you, not for well-meaning but demanding friends or family.
A diverting pastime will refresh your outlook – a day at work or an evening of lecture notes will seem easier to manage with something to look forward to later. Without that incentive, even the prospect of work or study can bring on fatigue.
It’s important not to ignore signs of flagging during those hours when you do have to work, study or attend classes. Keep your energy levels up, and above all, get your sleep. Staying awake well into the night to study is counter-productive for most people.