Night owl or early bird? Here’s when you should study
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Night owl or early bird? Here’s when you should study

Night owl or early bird? Here’s when you should study

There are two people in this world: night owls and morning people.

The two will never understand the other – how can you stay up happily ’till 3am? I’m in bed by 9.30pm every night and get up with the morning light, the morning person preaches.

I have never seen 6am in my life, the night owl replies, unfazed, in the small section of the day these two beings share.

When it comes to studying, these very different people have conflicting views on when the optimum time for studying is. Do you stay up late into the early hours cramming material or get to bed early and get up at the crack of dawn to crack out the books?

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Word on the street, all the coolest people are up at night. Source: GIPHY.

These polar opposite studying techniques (or should we say timings) both have benefits. So what time of day should you really study to get the best results?

Well, it turns out it’s a mixed bag. Here are the arguments for both…

Study in the nighttime

Forget the big bright world of the daytime, the nighttime is your terrain. It’s quiet, you have had the day to prepare (and procrastinate where necessary) and now you’re ready to sit down and really get some serious studying done.

Need to remember that information you’ve been going over for your exam once and for all? Learn it at night and then hit the hay.

Going to sleep pretty soon after studying gives the information time to sink in and settle in your brain. It’s science.

Neuroscientist William Klemm wrote for Psychology Today: “There is no longer any doubt. Sleep does improve the gelling or consolidation of memory for recently encoded information.”

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Creeping to get midnight snacks during your late-night study session. Source: GIPHY.

So, after you’ve learned the info, don’t feel guilty for having a long, well-deserved sleep, well into the next day if you like (so long as your exam isn’t that morning) because your mind needs that time to consolidate the facts.

Probably best not to cram it all in the night before, though, otherwise you might need a long, long time to weld all that information into your brain – plus, a sleepy student in a morning exam is a recipe for disaster.

Study in the morning

Morning people seem to have their lives together. Up when the sun’s up, fresh, ready for the world, accomplishing more than the rest of us do all day before we’ve even heard the first bleak beeps of our alarm clock.

Of course, after a rested sleep, you are less likely to be distracted and more likely to be feeling refreshed and sharp than at the end of the day, when your senses are depleted and you have all the happenings of the day buzzing around your mind.

Also, you know what’s good for the mind, body (and soul)? SUN! And you won’t get much of that if you’re sleeping away the days and working through the nights. Study in the morning and you’ll soak up all that sweet, sweet vitamin D.

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Up at the crack of dawn? Your memory is better in the morning. Source: GIPHY.

University of Sussex psychologist Dr Jane Oakhill has conducted vast amounts of research into memory, almost all of which concludes that morning is the best time for absorbing new information.

So, while nighttime can serve you well when going over old content, the morning might be best if you are teaching yourself new info. So, particularly for very fact-based courses, the morning is your friend and you can then spend the rest of the day making sense of the facts you’re learning.

So while you could smugly repeat the chant: early to bed, early to rise, makes one healthy, wealthy and wise, you could just ignore that old saying and do what works best for you.

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