Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Study, or Sleep?

During finals week in college I always lived by two mantras:
1.  Well rested, well tested, and
2.  Study too long, you're wrong.
 I might have been on to something 26 years ago:
There are lots of distractions in the modern world that lead people to stay up late in the night.  For students, though, there is also homework.  On the night before a big exam or a major paper, many students put in a lot of extra study time in order to prepare.

Does that extra study time help performance in school?

The most important result, though, was that when students lost sleep because they spent extra time doing schoolwork, they had significantly more problems the next day than when they got their typical amount of sleep.  This negative effect of extra study time was strongest for 12th-grade-students and weaker for the 9th- and 10th-grade students...

It is an age-old tradition to cram for exams and to finish papers at the last minute.  There are lots of good reasons to want to avoid cramming.  For example, cramming for an exam may help a student pass that particular exam, but information learned the night before the test is not remembered in the long-term as well as information that is studied over several nights.  If cramming for a test also reduces the amount of sleep a student is getting, then that just adds to the problem. 

1 comment:

momof4 said...

Amen to both. I admit that I have always been a morning person and, even in college, was usually in bed by 22-2230, but I never skimped on sleep (at clinical by 0615!) I always finished big papers at least a week ahead, so I could ignore it for at least 5 days, before a last check - wherein I usually caught a few errors I had previously overlooked - and shorter papers at least a day or two early. I never got behind, reviewed lecture notes and readings constantly, and started studying at least a week ahead, making ever-more-condensed notes. The night before and just before the exam, I just did a quick review of the most-condensed notes. The one time I tried to do more - because it was my last exam - I overstudied and lost focus on the important points; not a good thing on a two-essay test.(thank Heaven for the term paper) The one time I tried an all-nighter (because everyone else was doing), I overstudied and was exhausted. Fortunately, it didn't matter. Those habits- plus going to all classes, taking good notes and doing all the reading, carried me through two majors (one a practice discipline), two minors and two degrees (in 4 years; no copy machines, no taping classes, no internet, no computer). Ditto for two grad degrees (with 2-4 kids and my DH). Simple, but it works.