Staying up late to study? 7 tips to help you switch off and get a good night’s sleep

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Cramming late into the night with coffee, energy drinks or sugary treats to keep you going and a sense of fear, panic and adrenaline coursing through your veins.

Most of us have been there the night before a deadline or an exam.

I know I have, on numerous occasions. But don’t worry I’m not going to tell you to plan better or make better use of your time.

1. Because its pointless. You’re likely reading this because you’re already cramming… so it’s too late for hindsight and kicking yourself for not getting on with it earlier. What’s done is done.


2. Because some people thrive on the energy and adrenaline of working close to deadlines.

I am one of those people.

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t. But I’ve come to realise through years of school, college and uni, plus additional qualifications and certifications, that it is actually when I do my best work. I thrive on a tight deadline. It forces me into clarity and stops me overanalysing my work.

But, as much as I’m not here to tell you to study sooner, I will say that it will have a negative impact on your sleep, and therefore your energy.

So if you’re staying up late to study, here’s how to switch off and get a good night’s sleep:

1. Let go of what youll feel like tomorrow

It’s tempting to worry about how tired you’ll feel tomorrow and beat yourself up for staying up late.

We’re adaptable to different sleep patterns and can cope with reduced sleep in the short term. So, release the worry of how you’ll feel when you wake up, and remind yourself that’ll you be just fine.

2. Screens off

The blue light emitted from laptops, phones and TVs will keep you wired and although I used to fall asleep to the TV a lot when I was at uni, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Try and switch all your screens off and even turn your phone off once you’ve set an alarm. It helps create a definite break between work, and rest and your brain won’t be affected by the light.

3. Fresh air

Your room can get stuffy whilst you’re studying, so either open the window and let the temperature drop a little or go for a little walk outside.

The fresh air will clear your head and your body will drift off quicker if your environment is cooler.

4. 10 minutes quiet time

Shutting up your books, then jumping under the covers immediately may not be the best approach to getting some decent shut eye.

Chill your mind by listening to peaceful music, meditating or reading something non-study related.

Just 10 minutes will help you detach from revision mode.

5. The right light 

As with turning off screens, your lighting can affect your sleep. Scientists who study sleep patterns suggest dimming the lights 15 minutes before sleep and then aiming for as dark an environment as possible, with as few distractions (ticking noises, little LED lights on devices etc) as possible.

6. Plan your timing right

Have you heard of the 90 minute sleep cycle? It’s the average length of a cycle within your sleeping period.

It’s suggested that if you wake up mid-cycle you’re much more likely to be in deep sleep and struggle with getting up and feeling refreshed.

Try to work your way backwards from your desired waking time in 90 minute chunks – this will give you the optimum bedtime. E.g – want to wake up at 7:30am and it’s 11:30pm now? Try aiming to nod off around midnight and you’ll have 7 cycles and should wake up more refreshed.

7. An alternative to counting sheep 

Counting sheep has never worked for me. I just get bored and frustrated with the whole concept.

What I do find useful is focusing my attention inwards whilst I lie in bed. I notice the way the duvet feels on my skin, the softness of the pillow, the sound of my breathing. By noticing and focusing on my immediate environment and my body, I find I drift off naturally in no time.

Are you cramming for an exam or staying up late to study? Which ideas will you be using to get a better night’s sleep?

Read more on studying effectively;

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Jen Smith coaches entrepreneurs in social media.

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