Sleep or Study Before Exam: Which Is Better and Why?

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Every student has wondered if they should sleep or study before exams. You obviously know both are important, but which will help you do better on the exam?

Students should plan ahead and study a little bit each day before exams and get plenty of sleep.

If students haven’t studied and have to choose between sleep and studying, a little of both is better. Study the most important information before sleeping and again before the test. Avoid staying up all night, as lack of sleep causes a decline in memory, concentration, and critical thinking.

Let’s go over why sleep is important before an exam, if it is worth staying up all night, and how much sleep you need.

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Benefits of sleep before an exam

There are many benefits to sleeping before an exam, such as:

  • Memory: sleep is when we commit information to memory. Sleep can help you recall what you studied on the exam.
  • Cognitive function: sleep is necessary for critical thinking and problem-solving
  • Focus: sleep helps you focus.
  • Reduced stress: lack of sleep raises stress
  • State of being: when you get a good night’s sleep, you feel more alert, energized, and confident

The benefit of sleep for your memory cannot be understated. According to the sleep foundationOpens in a new tab., the REM stage of sleep is when your brain processes new information that you learned and commits it to memory. This is vital to studying and doing well on exams.

It is important to note that consistently getting enough sleep is more important than just getting a good night’s sleep the night before the exam. You also need to get enough sleep while you are learning the material for you to be able to process and remember it.

If you stay up all night or frequently don’t get enough sleep, then you are sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation impairs critical thinking, problem-solving, memory, and concentration. It also increases stress, weakens your immune system, causes irritability, and leads to poor reaction times.

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Is it necessary to sleep before an exam?

Most people know (or assume) that there are benefits to sleep, but is it really necessary to sleep before an exam?

It is necessary to sleep before an exam. Sleep will help you remember what you have learned, focus on the test, and improve your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These are all vital skills for test-taking.

Additionally, studying for long periods is not helpful because it leaves you exhausted and unable to concentrate.

Is it worth staying up all night to study?

If you haven’t studied at all, you may still be skeptical and think you should study all night.

It is not worth staying up all night to study. An all-nighter causes cognitive impairment that would be detrimental for test-taking. Study the most important information before you go to sleep and review the information again after you sleep before your exam.

Since sleep commits information to memory, if you stay up all night, you will have a harder time remembering the information you are cramming to study. Sleeping after studying can help you remember the information.

The sleep foundationOpens in a new tab. states that not sleeping has a similar effect as being drunk since 24 hours without sleep is comparable to 0.10% blood alcohol content. You wouldn’t think it is a good idea to take your exam drunk, so why would you think it is a good idea to take it with no sleep?

If you do decide to stay up and study, make sure that you practice other self-care by staying hydrated and eating well. Also, try to take breaks, stretch, and rest your eyes.

How much sleep should I get before an exam?

Now that you know that you need sleep before an exam, the next question is, how much sleep do you need? According to the sleep foundationOpens in a new tab., adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to feel well-rested.

College students need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, especially before exams. A good night’s sleep will help students to focus, improve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and remember the information.

Is it better to stay up all night or sleep for a few hours?

Even if a person cannot get a full night’s sleep, it is better to sleep for a few hours than to stay up all night. A couple of hours of sleep is better than none and can help you feel less tired and better remember the information you studied.

Now that you know if you should sleep or study before exams, check out How to Study When It’s Noisy: Tips to Block Out Noise and ConcentrateOpens in a new tab..

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