What's the best time to study?
If you can’t keep your head up on its own, it may not be the time to study. Image Source

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?
-Jake

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.

Habitual Timing

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.

Quiet Time

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.

Q/A – What’s The Best Time To Study?

Maybe She Won’t Notice

D’s eyes were watering at the score on the screen.

He was thinking, “Is this what I am now?”

The score was low. Lower than he liked to think about – and way lower than he used to get.

He was just hoping that his mother wouldn’t ask. He always hated telling her and it killed him worse to lie about it. It’s his mother… she wants what’s best for him and he knew he was screwing it up.

Staring at the score it hit him…

This has to change. On the next test, coming up in 3 weeks, he was going to make up for it. He was going to score high.

So… he studied. He studied for hours that night. He studied until his eyes were closing involuntarily.

The next day… he studied for hours.

And the day after that… he did it again.

But the day after that – his best friend was going through a bit of a crisis. So… he took the day off studying. I mean, no one needs to study hundreds of hours for a test, and he was doing well so far.

But the next day… he was exhausted. And, you know, exhausted studying doesn’t work. So he missed that day to.

The day after, he squeezed in some studying.

And… I think you know how this story goes…

The night before the test, he’s staring down at his study guide and cursing to himself.

It happened… again…

So…

That night he buckled down and studied almost all night. (Until he virtually crashed at 3 am.) Every time he started dozing off earlier he’d get a snack or drink and keep on plugging. He worked. And he worked hard.

He even had moments where it felt like he was running better than ever. He felt like he was going to pull it off.

The test was the next afternoon.

And I’d like to say he knocked it out of the park and D saved himself with his last ditch effort to save his grade but…

I can’t say that.

Sure… D didn’t bomb completely.

But when he was staring down at his score… he was tearing up again. And he still was hoping that his mother wouldn’t ask him about it…

It’s not a number on a piece of paper.

I know… it can help reduce your stress to think that way, and there is a place for that.

But your future, your position in the world, is partially decided by these numbers on these papers. We all know it.

We all want to put ourselves in the best position possible – and these scores can do that for us.

And D knew it.

If you know it then join us.

– Aaron

P.S.

D is kicking butt it this semester – more importantly, he’s doing it without procrastination rearing its ugly head.

If you’re ready to take your academic game to the next level – if you want to see it for yourself.

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2 thoughts on “Q/A – What’s The Best Time To Study?

  • October 25, 2015 at 5:07 pm
    Permalink

    According to my usual thought pattern, the best time to study is later.

    Reply
  • October 3, 2015 at 1:21 pm
    Permalink

    I hear that studying before going to sleep in good for memory but I always sleep before I finish studying :/

    Reply

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