I got a question this week from a reader curious about the best time to study:
I can’t decide when I should make my study time. Is it better to study in the morning or at night?
There are very few conclusive studies on this subject. Even if there were conclusive studies down, I doubt it would have an impact that’s more important than some related personal factors. These related factors are significantly more important than picking the specific best time to study.
Whatever time you select, make sure that you can do it at the same time every day. It’s not essential but it would make a huge impact in comparison to the actual time you pick for studying. If you have a busier schedule in the morning then you probably shouldn’t try to study in the morning because things can go wrong and force you to miss your study routine. The same goes if you’re busy at night. Try to pick a time that you’re sure you’ll hardly ever have to miss. You might say the best time to study is the same time as you always study.
One factor that I hear come up all the time is solitude. This has mostly anecdotal evidence but if it sounds like it applies to you then you might want to try it.
People tend to prefer to study while they’re alone. The time that they’re alone depends on the people around them. For example, a college fraternity is likely filled with tons of people that stay up late at night. That makes it busy later in the evening and quiet in the morning. In that situation, it’s likely to be better to study in the morning while everyone is asleep. The best place to study likely changes based on the time of day when you’re most likely to be alone.
Of course, leaving in your parents home you might find everyone going to bed at 9 and getting up at daybreak. That might make it preferential to stay up a little later for studying to be alone.
Small differences in your own personal life can make a huge difference in the best time that you should be studying.
Sleep And Memory
There are some semi-conclusive studies in subjects similar to this that may apply but don’t overestimate their connection. People that take a nap after learning tend to remember things better. That may apply to studying at night making it the best time to study.
Studying at night, ideally right before sleep, may increase the amount you remember notably (but not dramatically.) It also tends to be a good routine to get into right before bed. A little bit of studying makes one of two things more likely.
One: you might just get sleepy and fall asleep faster.
Two: you might just go to sleep thinking about what you were studying. That would give you a better understanding of the material.
This factor does not outweigh the previous personal factors but if you’re still stuck then it might be worth considering. If you have any personal preference to the best time to study then I wouldn’t let this data change that.
Your Best Time To Study
Ultimately, the best time to study comes down to the things happening in your own life. Some people should be studying in the morning. Some people should be studying at night. For the most part, anyone with a little freedom in their schedule could study either way with little measurable difference. The evidence is inconclusive to the point where it’s hardly worth worrying about at all on a scientific level. There may be a better way but your personal preferences likely outweigh it.
Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is all about. Be sure to check out the archives and follow along to get started. Also, check out the books in the sidebar if you’re interested in learning all the juicy details faster.
CAUTION! Don’t Let This Happen To You
This is an absolutely essential read for anyone on this blog.
R. is a college graduate that I know. He went to one of the best colleges in his field. He worked hard. He scored high. He did everything he was supposed to do…
He’s a smart guy.
Now R. has the degree… but not much else except tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
He lives at home with his parents barely able to get by paying his loans off… He blew it because he wasn’t ready despite the high scores.
It can give you the fast-track in life…
But it’s not everything.
You need more than just good scores. You need:
- Efficient learning strategies (you can use through life)
- High-scoring testing strategies (to prove you know your stuff)
- Pareto-esque prioritization systems (to use your time better)
- An enjoyable life WHILE learning and scoring high (because if it’s not enjoyable, you won’t keep doing it.)
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