As exams approach, people usually panic as they try to scamper through the study material. At times you might find yourself staying up late in the night before taking an exam. While you may think that you need to revise as much as possible late into the night, if you do not get enough sleep before an exam, it might affect your mind and body negatively. We all look for all the help that we can get to score as high as we can in the exams we take. Go for all the constructive help that you can to improve your exam performance. For instance, you can get all the information about writing GRE exams at My GRE Exam Preparation. As you prepare for your exam you need to remember that getting good sleep is actually an important part of learning and improving your memory.
WHY DO WE NEED ENOUGH SLEEP?
One of the main benefits of getting enough sleep is that your memory recall will be better. A two-step process is involved in the formation of memories in the brain. One is the process of acquisition in which the brain captures what you read recently. Only when you sleep then the second process of consolidation takes place in which short term memories captured by the brain are converted into long term memories. If you do not get enough sleep then long-term memories are not created and whatever your brain captures momentarily is replaced by newer information. So, when you decide to do an all-night preparation for exams without getting proper sleep, your brain does not get a chance to convert the information you have gathered into long-term memories. An all-nighter can put you at a major disadvantage, whether you are studying the next day or sitting for a test.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING SLEEP?
There are several stages of sleep and each stage has a specific purpose. In the first couple of stages, which are brief, the physical needs of the human body are taken care of. In the third and fourth stage, the neurons in the brain are synchronized and the immune system is restored as the body repairs itself. In these stages, a night of good sleep improves the metabolism of the body and revitalizes the cardiovascular system. Sleep-deprived people will have difficulty in focusing and over time. Our bodies don’t forget when we don’t get enough sleep; instead, we go into sleep debt. Our bodies strive to repay this debt by sleeping whenever it is possible, which might result in microsleeps.
Since getting enough sleep is important before taking an exam, here are some ways to improve your sleep.
- SCHEDULING YOUR SLEEP
First and foremost, you should schedule time for your sleep. Assign yourself at least eight hours for adequate sleep with an additional half an hour to set alarms, brush your teeth and probably do some non-subject related light reading. Once you fix a time and follow it, you will be able to effectively schedule other daily activities including your study time.
- CONTROL CAFFEINATED DRINKS
Try to avoid caffeinated things such as coffee, tea, aerated drinks and chocolates in the latter part of the day. Caffeine necessarily does not have a fixed impact on everybody but it stays in the body for a long time even up to six to eight hours. This may affect your sleep. Limiting the intake of sources of caffeine or regulating it will help you to get adequate sleep.
- SWITCH OFF ELECTRONIC DEVICES
You should ensure that you should switch off all your electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you sleep. Mobile phones, tablets or televisions emit blue light which influences the delay in the release of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone. When you constantly use your electronic devices before you sleep, the sleep that is induced is usually non-refreshing and you will most likely wake up feeling tired.
- EXERCISE REGULARLY
Exercises can be great stress busters when you study a lot during exams. Stress and anxiety contribute to sleep deprivation. You should exercise regularly but not late in the evening or night before going to sleep. You should choose the right kind of exercises so that you do not strain yourself too much. Exercises not only help you to stay alert while studying but they also help you to relax when you go to sleep.
- CLEAR YOUR HEAD BEFORE YOU SLEEP
One final and important piece of advice is to go to sleep without any baggage or thoughts. Being worried about your performance in the test or an exam the next day will disturb your sleep. You can opt for some breathing and meditation exercises that may help you to calm your mind. Having a lot of thoughts before sleeping keeps your brain active. You can probably maintain a diary or a notebook and write down your thoughts.
Do not ignore sleep as it will only adversely affect your memory and eventually your grades. Taking these steps can help you develop a good habit of getting the appropriate sleep that you need particularly before writing an exam.