Finding the best time to study when you are a busy adult student will be difficult, but you must manage to do exactly that if you want to succeed in your study. In this article, I will show you how to find the best time to study smarter, not harder, and to study effectively and efficiently
There are many reasons to go back to school as an adult — or start your college career for the first time. For some adult learners, it’s about accomplishing a goal that may have been a long-time dream.
I was one of them. A couple of years ago, I went back to school and continue my education abroad in Italy.
Other than accomplishing my long-time dream to study abroad and living in Italy, my dream country, I took the opportunity to continue my education to a higher level as a way to complete a plan that was in progress many years ago, before life (in my case, marriage and baby) happened.
Some adults look to education as a way to advance a career, add a specialty, or learn skills and take on new responsibilities in their jobs.
For other adult learners, it may be simply a matter of broadening their horizons, either professionally or personally.
Whatever the reason, attending university as an adult and as a student mom and dad is a courageous step forward. But juggling many responsibilities as an adult can be challenging.
Therefore, being able to maximize the very little time you have to study is very important to make sure you are productive and getting good results, which eventually leads to the success of your study.
When is the Best Time to Study for Human Brain
One of the most important things to identify as soon as possible, at the very start of your back-to-school journey is the best time to study.
I personally believe there is no single perfect time for studying since it will depend from person to person. Our sleep patterns and how we function during the day and night are determined by our chronotypes, whether we are hardwired to be “early birds” or “night owls.”
Early birds refer to those who tend to wake early and go to bed early, are people who naturally feel sleepy earlier in the evening and naturally wake early in the morning.
While night owl is a chronotype associated with individuals who are most productive during the evening, prefer to stay up late, and wake up late.
In addition to regulating sleep and wake times, chronotype has an influence on appetite, exercise, and core body temperature. It is responsible for the fact that you feel more alert at certain periods of the day and sleepier at others.
Identifying your chronotype can help you establish the most suitable schedule for living your best life, including your study schedule.
Should You Study in the Morning or at Night?
Now that you’re able to determine your chronotype, you can start to set your study schedule and work on it to your advantage.
That said, science has indicated that learning is most effective between 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 10 pm when the brain is in an acquisition mode.
On the other hand, the least effective learning time is between 4 am and 7 am. Based on that information, if you are an early bird type, you need to maximize your 10 am to 2 pm time. While if you are a night owl type, you must use your 4 pm to 10 pm effectively.
Whichever you choose, each study time has its own benefits.
1. Benefits of studying in the morning
- After a good night’s sleep, your brain will be refreshed and able to absorb more information without much stress.
- Most likely you are not distracted yet by your many other responsibilities, and you can focus on your study.
- Finishing your study and assignments early in the morning also gives you a lot of time to do other things during the rest of your day.
- It is (normally, it’s not always the case when you have young children) calm and quiet in the morning. The serene environment could help you to concentrate more.
- The natural light is good for your eyes and keeps you alert. The fresh morning air will boost your mood
- If you need something related to your study, you could get it right away. For example, you could email or text your friend or professor without being worried you will disturb them because it’s already late. Or you could just go to the library if when you need to borrow a book since it will be open and don’t have to wait until the next day.
- It’s a perfect time to learn a new theory, or just review your lecturer’s notes from the previous day because mornings generally give you a better recollection ability.
2. Benefits of studying at night
- If you are a night owl type, you will have more energy studying at night, since this will be a more effective time for you to study.
- Less distraction since most people are already in bed. You could focus and concentrate more. The peaceful and quiet environment will also boost your creativity.
- You won’t be distracted by your many other responsibilities since you finished them all earlier.
- Studying at your most tired time like in the evening before you sleep can help your brain retain higher concentrations of new skills, such as speaking a foreign language.
- Researchers have found that most people’s alertness is often highest 2-4 hours before their regular bedtime. This is the wake maintenance zone.
- Because during slow-wave sleep, the memory-consolidation process does its best work and your brain could be receiving the restoration and reactivation that it needs during its time of rest. This means that studying before bedtime can help your brain learn new things, even in your sleep.
- Our brain consolidates information from short-time memory to long-term while sleeping. Learning information just before sleep might also be helpful for retention.
Alternatively, you could also try to study in the afternoon, if you and your schedule allow it. However, you may also find it hard to focus because of your body’s natural afternoon “slump”.
You may experience this slump when you feel tired and unmotivated after lunch. Especially when you eat plenty of carbs for your lunch.
Trying to study around this time is difficult for most people because of the body’s natural decrease in alertness.
However, if you have free time in the afternoon, you could still try to set your study schedule during these times.
Because in the afternoon, our brains are good at integrating new information with what we already know. During this time of day, people are able to create connections and make the information they have learned more meaningful.
Just remember to eat fewer carbs during lunch to avoid feeling sleepy afterward. Also, control your portion. People who eat larger lunches may experience more of an afternoon slump than those who eat less at midday. Eating causes blood sugar to rise, and a dip in energy may follow.
How Do You Decide What Study Time is Best for You?
Unfortunately, carving out study time is hard when you’re a busy student with many commitments, such as older students or student moms and dads.
Creating a habit of study which you could strictly follow routinely will also be difficult, given your crazy (and sometimes unpredictable) schedule.
Nevertheless, to ensure the success of your study, you must allocate a specific amount of time every day, dedicated only to your study purpose, such as studying for your exams, finishing your homework, working on your papers, essays, and other assignments, preparing your presentation and so on.
Those are not easy tasks, especially when you have a small child(ren). Ideally, you will have a spacious, clean, and nicely decorated study space.
Then, you’ll spend several hours there every day, uninterrupted, completely focus on studying and working on your assignments.
Use this printable workbook to record your Back to School Research. Don’t make all that Campus Visits, Virtual Tours, Webinars, and Q&A with the school’s admission personnel go to waste !! Write down the information you have collected in this workbook.
Study them later carefully to help you weigh in the pros and cons of each university and decide the best place for you to continue your study.
But before I go any further, I would like to apologize in advance for bringing the bad news to you. As someone who had been a student mom (my daughter was 4 when I started my study), that’s not always the case.
I can’t count how many times I had to study or work on my assignments with my daughter sitting or sleeping in my lap.
It’s not a productive study time for me, as well as putting both of us in an uncomfortable (perhaps even dangerous) position for at least several hours. So, prepare your study schedule well to avoid these kinds of things also happening to you.
Researchers suggest if you’re a morning type you feel more alert in the morning which may help with a morning study schedule.
Alternatively, if you’re an evening type you feel alert in the evening (during the wake maintenance zone). Therefore, you may find an evening study schedule works best for you.
Unfortunately, if you are an older student and student mom and dad, deciding the best time to study for you only based on your chronotypes is not enough.
You have plenty of other responsibilities such as work and taking care of your family. So, if your optimal time to study is prone to distraction that might disrupt your routine, find another time more suitable for your body as well as your life schedule.
For example, if you are a morning person but have difficulty concentrating on your study because you know the whole house will wake up soon, and the morning chaos will soon follow, you can try to wake up an hour or two earlier.
The same thing applies if you are a night owl. Set your schedule an hour or two later than usual, when the whole house is already asleep so that you won’t be distracted by your child(ren) who wakes up every now and then because they aren’t deep asleep yet, for example.
This way, you could still be studying without any distractions, and at the time when your body and mind are most productive and alert.
Lastly, make sure you select a time that you can stick to consistently, at least for a few days every week because consistency helps ensure you study daily and improves the quality of your study time.
Over to You…
Everyone has their own unique learning style. They may learn better at different times of the day. Some people might be early birds and will study better in the morning, while others are the night owls who will be more productive at night.
Find which one is your type, in the morning or at night. Combine this information with your busy schedule to find the best time to study for you.
You could even try to study in the afternoon. Not exactly based on your chronotype, but if it works best with your schedule, you could try the option.
Ultimately, you need to find a time that suits your schedule comfortably. Studying when your body feels most alert is the most healthy and productive way to study.
Try and find what study time works best for you and then stick to it. If you study at the same time every day, you will condition your mind and body gradually, and soon, you will be in your best frame of mind for study.
Once you know what works best for you, you can start your studying routine more effectively and efficiently. So, what time do you study best? Comment below to let us know!
Pin this and share the post on social media, who knows, it could help some busy students determine the best study time for them. Thanks so much and till next time!!!
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