Why Do I Study Better When I’m Tired?

Studying is no easy task at all but at times we have no choice but to do it.

This is usually a common theme for students. I say this because students are ultimately always facing some deadline or due date of some sort.

Being constantly engaged in activities that require mental power can be stressful…often times students are stressed, tired  or exhausted.

One discussion that I had with a student friend of mine got me thinking and ultimately became this article….

The discussion was basically around studying whilst tired or exhausted..  the question that was posed to me to be exact was:

Why do I study better when I’m tired?

The explanation for this is simple. When your brain is tired, it doesn’t have the luxury of hopping from one activity to another, which means it can focus on the one task at hand like studying because it doesn’t have the resources to shift attention to other things. When you’re well rested and your brain is fully functional..your attention can tend to be all over the place.

This is not to say you can’t study if you’re not tired…

you can also study better even when you’re well rested but it takes a certain level of discipline to focus and concentrate.

Should you study when you’re tired?

When it comes to studying when you’re tired you have to be very careful. You can study when you’re tired but you have to ensure that you’re not ultimately wasting your time.

I say this because people are different and our brains work differently. Others may find it easy to study even when they’re tired while it may be impossible for others.

Which is why I’ve broken it down to two things that you can do to ensure that your overall study session works out even when you’re tired.

The first thing you have to do is Limit study time… You need to give yourself some room to maneuver and let your brain absorb what it can absorb.

This best way to do this is not load it with a bunch of information all at once. Take it easy and just study for a bit. I’d say an hour or two would be a good limit.

This way, you can reserve some mental power to actually digest what you’ve read.

The other thing that you have to do to ensure that your study session is worth it is to Test comprehension…

This means self quizzing yourself as you go on about studying because this will allow you to gauge your level of comprehension.

If you’re finding it difficult to remember what you’ve read or are reading then take a break or simply don’t continue studying until you’re rested.

When you wake up the next day, test what you read the previous day to know whether it was worth it to study whilst tired.

How to avoid falling asleep when studying

Falling asleep is something really common for people that study or read when they’re tired.

below are some measures you can take to avoid falling asleep as you study.

Rest if you’re tired

Most people fall asleep when studying because they try to do it even when they’re tired.

It’s okay to study when you’re tired but this is limited and doesn’t work for everybody.

Therefore, the next time you think of studying make sure you get enough rest and then do it.

Studying while exhausted will result in you eventually  sleeping or simply not comprehending what you’re studying. Which is bad because you’d be wasting time….

Time that could otherwise be used to rest.

Therefore, schedule for studying times but don’t neglect rest. You need a good and well rested brain to tackle focused work like studying.

Let some air in the room

Anybody that has had to study in a closed room with closed windows can easily attest to the fact that it’s not an easy thing to do.

When the space you’re using to study is too comfy and warm with no fresh air coming in you’ll most likely doze off.

The reason for this is simple, a warm comfy space sets the tone for sleep. Which can very difficult if you’re trying to concentrate on your studies.

This is why I prefer to study near an open window, so the breeze can seep into the room and help keep me awake.

Doing this let’s me stay focused on what I’m doing and not worry about falling asleep.

Therefore, try and study in a room with some air coming in. Open the windows, open a door if you have to. It will certainly help.

A warm comfy space will make hard for you to concentrate and stay awake.

Take notes to stay on task

Another good practice that I’ve found to be useful if I’m looking to study for long without getting exhausted is taking notes.

Note taking can help you use your brain and keep it engaged in the information you’re studying.

Good notes can also help you keep accountability of what you’ve studied just in any case that you stop abruptly or end up falling asleep.

Therefore have a piece of paper or a study book beside you and just jot down points that you feel are important.

This way, you can test your memory and distract your brain from catching a nap.

Don’t over study

One of the reasons why people fall asleep when studying is because they over do it.

I know some of you have deadlines with strict rules…but it’s always good practice not to engage your brain on a focused activity for too long.

For example studying for over 5 hours straight is not an easy task and can easily get you exhausted and have you fall asleep without you even knowing.

Which is why it may be useful to distribute your study time into manageable chunks.

This is why it’s not advisable to study the day before an assessment because you’ll panick the whole day, over work yourself and in turn make comprehension very difficult.

A good practice is studying everyday for short periods like 1-3 hours so you can prepare ahead for assessments.

Rather than jumping the gun in the last minute.

Take a break

Breaks are as essential as the study session itself. Everyone deserves a break from books every now and then to gather focus.

You’ll easily fall asleep if you don’t take breaks but study for long hours continously.

Therefore have a way to include breaks in your study sessions and you’ll be able to avoid falling asleep.

You can also distribute your study sessions if you prefer to take longer breaks.

What you’d do is study for a couple of hours per study session and then take a few hours to rest and take a break.

This method is just as good as maybe taking 10 to 15 minute breaks before getting back to studying.

The key is to basically find a way to optimize your breaks and study sessions to fit your particular way of doing things.

Splash water on your face

Nothing will snap you out of sleep mode better than a splash of water on the face.

This takes some doing, but can easily be pulled off.

All you essentially have to do is take note of how you feel as you go on with your studying.

The moment you feel sleep start to crawl up on you, get up and head to the bathroom and splash some cold water on your face.

This will liven you up plus this will also be a good time to take a break at this point..

You can also take a glass of cold water to freshen you up and stay hydrated.

But the splash of cold water on your face is absolutely necessary in staying awake.

Take some coffee

I really don’t like to recommend coffee as a means to stay awake but if you’re on a deadline and can’t afford to be sleepy… you should take some coffee.

The caffeine in the coffee will help you stay awake for a reasonable amount of time… when you feel it start to wear off get up and a take a break.

You don’t want to have a lot of caffeine in your system so don’t take coffee back to back.

Instead take a glass of cold water, splash some water on your face and take a break…

I believe feeling sleepy is your brain telling you to liven up because your exhaustion may take over and make you sleep.

Avoid studying at night

Most people find it difficult to study at night while others find it convenient.

The one universal disadvantage of studying at night is that you can easily fall asleep or give up and sleep.

Which is why I advise people to avoid studying late at night.

You’re better off delegating the heavy study sessions to day time rather than night time.

Related Articles You Should Definitely Read

What Are Some Effective Study Strategies?

Is It Better To Study Via Books Or Computer?

Why Do I Quickly Forget What I Read?

Why does My Mind Drift When I Read?

Helpful Resources

Why Your Concentration Is Better When You’re Exhausted – Business Insider

Does Studying While Tired Work At All? – The Productive Engineer

8 Ways to Study Even When You’re Tired and Sleepy – Edu Advisor

How to Study When You’re Tired – ChloeBurroughs.com

How to Avoid Sleepiness While Studying: 9 Ways to Stay Awake – Healthline

13 Best ways to Study when Tired (2022) – Helpful Professor