We have been conditioned to believe that a good night’s sleep is something that goes for 8 hours and beyond. However, due to our fast-paced lives, we may not be able to get 8 hours every night. Recent studies suggest that sleeping for about 6.5 hours per night is just as good for your health.
Sleep is especially important for a student, especially one preparing to take their final exams.
How Many Hours of Sleep Should I Get During Final Exams?
The amount of sleep you need will vary from student to student. Some may not necessarily need the recommended amount of 7 to 9 hours. There are those that can thrive on as little as 4 hours per night. Others, however, need more.
During exams, you should sleep the recommended amount of 7 to 9 hours if you’re unsure. This will give your body enough time to rest and retain information.
Sleep refreshes your body and re-energizes you for the day ahead. It is also through sleep that your body detoxes, which explains why we normally wake up more mentally invigorated. As a student, sleeping ample hours every night is significant in helping you retain information. This is because it is during sleep that the cells and neurons in your brains form new connections, thereby ensuring everything you learnt during the day is taped to your memory, not to be easily forgotten.
Why Is Sleep Important for Mental Focus?
It is virtually impossible to separate sleep from mental focus. As we have already mentioned, sleep is directly connected with the ability of your body to detoxify. These toxins are normally in form of proteins that accumulate between the brain cells during the day.
According to this study that was published in Science, it was discovered that during sleep, the brain cells of a mouse may shrink so as to allow enough volumes of liquid to flow into and out of the brain, thereby clearing out all wastes from brain cells. The cells would then expand as soon as the animal wakes up. This act of detoxifying the brain directly improves mental focus as well as memory retention.
After a good amount of sleep, the brain is able to retain information learned the day before. There are even more studies suggesting sleep deprivation could cause adverse effects on your mental focus. It is believed that brain neurons send signals at comparatively slower speeds when you are sleep-deprived.
This explains your inability to complete actions that require quick reaction times such as being able to move quickly in an emergency. As a student, your decision-making and reasoning skills become significantly reduced. This is why you will find it difficult to decide which question on an exam paper to handle first and which one to defer to a later time. As a result, you only end up wasting more time on one or fewer difficult questions at the expense of relatively easier ones. This approach could mean that by the time the paper is due, you have only attempted fewer questions, whose outcomes you are not even sure of either.
The generalized feeling of fatigue that comes from sleep also affects your mental focus. When sleep-deprived, you will discover that during your waking hours, the brain tries to focus more on restoring your physical strength, all at the expense of your memory.
How to Get into a Good Sleep Routine Before the Exam Week
It is not unusual to experience sleep deprivation during your exam finals. But we cannot stress enough how adversely that could affect your focus and ultimate outcome. However, the good news is that you can come up with a workable routine to help you sleep well during this critical moment in your education career.
First and foremost, it is important to manage your stress and anxiety levels. If the exam is only a week away and you happen to discover there are topics you hadn’t revised well, avoid panic. Instead, focus on whatever you have internalized already. Students are known to panic over 20 percent of what they haven’t revised, only to have the 80 percent they had revised evaporate into thin air.
But anxiety does not only make you forget newly-learnt information; it also denies you sleep. During the weeks or days leading up to your exam finals, come up with an effective sleep routine based on when you’re most effective. You may find that you are at you’re best when study early in the day, thus giving yourself ample time to sleep. Alternatively, you may like to study late. Once you have adopted a routine, practice it every day until exams are over.
Can You Sleep for Only 4 Hours Every Night?
The answer to this depends on some important factors. First and foremost, experts discourage sleeping for 4 hours per night. This is primarily because short sleep cycles are associated with chronic diseases such as depression, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes and obesity. However, what is important here is whether it is a natural or a trained habit.
Some people may have genetic predisposition making them sleep shorter than the recommended hours. This should not be a problem at all, though you are still encouraged to sleep longer whenever you can. On the other hand, trained short-sleepers associate with sleep-deprivation conditions such as lack of focus and poor memory. As a student, you should always insist on ample sleep as opposed to training yourself to sleep fewer hours, regardless of the circumstances.
Is It Okay to Nap Before an Exam?
A nap is a great way to refresh before an exam. It will help you to retain information and be more alert during the test. Whether or not you should depends on if you’ve already had a good night’s sleep the night before. If you didn’t sleep well, you may feel groggy after the nap since your body needs the rest. If however, you slept an ample amount, a nap could be very well beneficial. Note that it should be no longer than 90 minutes to be most effective.
How to Sleep Well Before Exams
The following are some great tips on how to leverage sleep before taking your exams.
Avoid caffeinated drinks – Coffee and other caffeinated drinks may keep you awake for longer. This is a no-brainier, as motorists, night guards and some students tend to to use coffee to stay awake through the night. However, coffee is a great impediment to sleep. Caffeine, being a stimulant, has a propensity to awaken your brain cells, making you stay up for longer as opposed to helping drift you off to sleep. Regular consumption of caffeine during your exam period could permanently interfere with the adenosine receptors, making it difficult for you to fall asleep at your usual times.
Exercise – Working out before going to bed can greatly improve your sleeping habits. Exercise is a great mood lifter. In addition, it also helps alleviate stress, making all the muscles and nerves in your body calm down as you head to sleep. When thinking along these lines, it is important to consider aerobic exercises (or exercises that target your cardiovascular system). These include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, running, to mention but a few. You may also rope in yoga, mindfulness and meditation, just to make it better. Stay motivated by using a Fitness Tracker (view on Amazon) that monitors your sleep, counts your steps, your calories, and your heart rate.
Avoid cell phone use before bed – Cellphone use, just like using your laptop or watching the television, are all detrimental to your sleep cycle. The obvious reason is that they do not make you exhausted enough for sleep. You brain will take much longer to process the chats you just had with your friend a few minutes ago, or the events you recently viewed on social media. Even worse, cellphone use is associated with the inhibition of melatonin secretion [the hormone responsible for healthy sleep]. Instead, it facilitates the secretion of cortisol [the hormone associated with increased stress and anxiety], thereby making it hard for you to fall asleep.
Improve your diet – Our body metabolism is at its lowest when we sleep. This is why experts recommend eating a light dinner before going to bed. But more important is the kind of food you have for dinner. According to research, high-fat diets promote better sleep compared to high-carb diets. If you must eat a high-carb meal, do so at least 4 hours before going to sleep. Whatever you do, ensure you eat a light dinner and drink enough water instead.
Conclusion – How Many Hours of Sleep Should I Get During Final Exams?
Your sleep schedule directly affects your performance in school. And this is especially true during exam periods. As a student, it is important to come up with a solid sleep routine depending on how it impacts your study habits. If you’re unsure what works best for you, try to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep during final exams.