Revision and Sleep

May 23, 2016.

Revision and Sleep

13+ Common Entrance Revision and Sleep

Is there a chance that you might be one of those people who has spent a great deal of time worrying about their 13+ Common Entrance exams or end of year exams and talking about revision but then has had trouble actually getting down to the nuts and bolts of learning?  Consequently, are you among those who might end up cramming furiously the night before the exam in an effort to compensate?  You are certainly not the only one as over 50% of young people do the same, especially at this time of year.  The wake up call is that, undoubtedly, your results are going to suffer.

Tempting though it is to while away a day, chatting to friends, comparing colourful revision timetables and strategizing about the best ways to learn, where then does the study time fit in?  If you wait until dark to action your revision plan, what happens to sleep?!

A reasonable approach to daytime learning, especially over the holidays, is advised but this could still include up to 6 hours of revision without encroaching on sleep and whilst still managing to fit in an alternative activity in the afternoon or evening.  By aiming to include a full morning of study, then a break in the afternoon to do something totally different, outdoors preferably, this should clear the head enough for an extra hour or two in the evening if required.  At the tail end of the day, some time is needed to wind down and switch off before heading to bed.  

Going to bed buzzing with thoughts and worries about how much there is still to do, is obviously not conducive to sleep.  Often, a clear plan that you’re able to stick to will help you to feel in control and that the learning is manageable.  However, if you’re a worrier, regardless, try some light meditation.  You may find this link useful but there are a great many options.  Go for something simple and no more than 15 minutes:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtF0T2fPvbI

Sleep is essential to calm, clear thinking. Quality periods of deep sleep enable the brain to think flexibly and make links between different types of information.  This is important as, if by some chance, you open up your Science Common Entrance exam paper, for example, and find it full of seemingly impossible questions, the tendency is either to panic and for your mind to go completely blank or, alternatively, for your brain to go on overdrive and actually start making connections to material that you do know and even to see more clearly how this knowledge can be adapted and applied.  It maybe that you can use a special kind of formula to work out a question or that you have seen something similar in a textbook that could help.

Research from Royal Holloway shows that students are able to assimilate and recall material more effectively if they quite literally sleep on it.  So, if everything is left to the last minute in a race to cram before the exam, the brain has little or no time to process and so will not be able to remember and apply the material as effectively.  When at all possible, aim to revise in blocks, with plenty of sleep in between times.  Good luck!


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