This article is targeted at high school, college, and graduate students.
Get up at 5 a.m. Spend 20 minutes meditating. Make a kale smoothie. Then it was back to school by 6 a.m.
If that sounds terrifying to you, don’t do it. Many common and generic study tips recommend that students get up at the crack of dawn to be the most productive. However, that advice does not apply to everyone.
What exactly is a night owl?
Some students are “night owls,” meaning they are more energetic and focused in the evenings and sluggish and unfocused in the morning.
Night owls typically wake up late in the morning and sleep late at night. Some studies, such as this one suggest that genetics and circadian rhythms influence whether or not someone is a night owl.
Because everyone has different sleep cycles and routines, being a night owl is perfectly normal within certain parameters. If you have a surge of energy between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., you may be a night owl, in which case the study tips in this blog post are for you.
The Drawbacks of Being a Night Owl Student
Being a night owl in high school can be difficult because most high schools start classes between 7 and 8 a.m. Many night owls are chronically late to high school morning classes, which can have a negative impact on grades and relationships. College students have more freedom in designing their courses.
Although older students can plan their schedules around their sleeping habits, extreme night owl-ism can still be a problem.
While I provide study tips for night owls, I do not advise students to develop a late-night study routine. Furthermore, I strongly discourage all-night study sessions because they are never worth losing a good night’s sleep for. (If you absolutely must study all night, do so in this manner.)
Studying Strategies for Night Owls
If you are a true night owl and have tried and failed to adjust your sleep-wake cycle, then use the following study tips to maximize your nighttime sessions.
- Schedule late-night study sessions.
True night owls consistently wake up late and go to bed late. As a result, late-night
Study sessions should be expected and shouldn’t be the result of poor planning or procrastination. If you know your peak energy hours are between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., schedule that time in your calendar just like someone who studies between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Guard your study time with intention and deliberation, even if it is when most people are sleeping.
- Create a study schedule or plan.
You must have a plan in place before beginning any study session, whether it is at 11 a.m. or 11 p.m. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO STUDY? HOW LONG WILL IT LAST? Do you have the necessary materials? What active recall techniques will you employ?
- Use proper fuel.
Our hormones behave differently at night than during the day. Our metabolism, hunger, digestion, and all other body systems are all affected. This means that your body may crave more sugar at night to provide enough energy to keep you awake. Do not rely on sugar or caffeine to power your late-night study sessions: both can disrupt your natural body rhythms and sleeping patterns. Instead, eat enough during the day and consider cutting out all caffeine after 3 or 4 p.m. Lots of water and real food if you’re hungry are your best bets for refueling late-night study sessions. You understand the distinction between real food and junk food.
- Create an ideal environment.
When you’re studying at night, you face several challenges, including limited lighting available and open spaces. This means you should pay special attention to the environment in which you study, beginning with lighting. While warm dim lights can be relaxing, they can also promote zoning out or falling asleep. Instead, choose brighter, neutral or cool-toned lighting.
Next, try not to study in your bed. Let me say it again: NEVER STUDY IN YOUR BED. Set up a cheap card table or collapsible desk in your room that you can take down during the day if space is limited. Set up your study session at a desk, kitchen table, or another flat surface if you have the space to sit in a normal chair – not a fluffy chair. Your study area should encourage alertness rather than relaxation.
- Wear something comfortable but not pajamas.
Resist the urge to study in your pyjamas. Wear something loose and comfortable, but avoid pajamas because they are a sleep trigger.
- Get plenty of sun during the day.
Our circadian rhythms and sleep/wake cycles are regulated by natural sunlight. You may have difficulty falling asleep at night and staying awake during the day if you do not get enough natural sunlight during the day. If you know you’ll be up late studying, make an effort to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight throughout the day.
- Establish a fixed stopping point.
Never start a study session without knowing when it will come to an end. If you follow my advice for planning your study sessions, setting a shutdown time won’t be hard. In general, I don’t recommend studying for more than two hours in total, including breaks. So, if you start studying at 10 p.m., your end time should be no later than midnight.
- Take frequent short breaks.
Short breaks should be taken during both daytime and nighttime study sessions. It doesn’t matter if you have the energy to keep going; the point is that taking breaks is better for the learning process.
Experiment with various work-break intervals to see what works best for you. There are two common ratios:
A 5-minute break after 25 minutes of work (classic Pomodoro Technique)
15 minutes of work in 45 minutes break
- Make use of spaced repetition.
Spaced repetition is critical for learning information thoroughly enough to remember it. Right here, I explain everything you need to know about spaced repetition (definitely read that post). Whether you study at noon or at midnight on a regular basis, you must begin the study process early enough to allow for spaced repetition over a few days.
Read Also: How To Identify Your Child’s Learning Style
- Maintain your organization.
Nighttime hours are valuable because the later you study, the less time you will have for sleeping. Get and stay organized during the day to make the most of your late-night study sessions. If you’re organized, you can spend every available minute studying rather than looking for your notes materials.
Here are some suggestions for organization:
- Maintain neat and orderly class notes.
- Create cheat sheets for each unit.
- Always remember to date and title your notes.
- Keep digital notes properly named and filed.
- Keep up with your class readings.
- Prepare your study materials ahead of time.
While these study tips for night owls can help you maximize your late-night study sessions, I still strongly advise you to do everything possible to adjust your sleeping habits to more traditional hours.
College students are more likely to get away with being true night owls, but high school students and working professionals will face significant difficulties. The majority of adults Jobs cannot accommodate irregular sleep/wake patterns, and the sooner you can adjust your sleeping habits, the better.
*Please consult a medical professional if you have difficulty falling asleep despite a healthy bedtime, or if you suffer from insomnia or other sleep irregularities, as I am not a physician