How to Work, Study, and Get Enough Sleep

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Originally published Feb 26, 2020, updated Apr 29, 2021
How to Work, Study, and Get Enough Sleep

Close your eyes and picture a typical college student. What do you see? Is there any image of a sleeping student?

Waking up feeling refreshed and ready to go after a nice, comfortable 8-hour sleep is not a privilege for the college student who also has a job. Combine working and studying with the additional preparation needed to take exams, and it can throw a person's sleep pattern completely off schedule. This leaves students feeling worn out and unprepared to work or learn.

However, with proper planning and attention to daily scheduling, you can make it through your exams while remaining well-rested and ready for a pop quiz should it arise.

Schedule Specific Activity Time Blocks

Instead of hoping that you can catch an hour for studying, or an hour for laundry, you should go for scheduling your time blocks. This will focus your attention on that particular task, and you can also track exactly how much time you spend on preparing for a particular class. By tracking the time you spend on tasks, you'll become better at predicting how much time will you need to get the things done.

Set Work/Study Times on Your Calendar

Sometimes while having a job and being a student, you'll find yourself working alternating shifts. Immediately upon receiving your work schedule, you should integrate it into your calendar program. Then you can add your study schedule blocks without worrying that they will conflict with one another. This will prevent you from scrambling to find time to study at the end of the week when you are overbooked, overworked, and overtired.

If Your Schedule Allows, Study/Work During Daylight Hours

Several studies have shown that working/studying during daylight as opposed to cramming during night hours allows you to be more aware during the afternoon, which could possibly increase your overall productivity by negating the 2 PM slump.

The same daylight research also reports better cognitive functions on day 2 of the study, such as reasoning, memory, and attention, which are all vital to doing intense mental work like studying for exams.

Work Ahead 

You should progress ahead of the class syllabus any time your schedule allows. When you are ahead of assigned reading or writing tasks, you will gain more from lectures and class discussions, as you have already reviewed the material that is being discussed.

Instead of waiting until the assignment is due, you should go through the chapters that you will be discussing, so you feel as though you've learned the presented material.

Learn to Say "No"

We all feel pressure to assist others when they’re in need. However, family and friends may not realize the workloads of our already full schedules when they ask us for assistance with matters. This can make you feel like a bad friend if you say "no".

However, if you use your schedule tracking to explain your time crunch, you can learn to say "no" without feeling the guilt.

Stick to Your Sleep Schedule

Whenever possible, you should adhere to the sleep schedule that you have developed. Meet bedtime with a welcoming, relaxing routine. 30 minutes before bedtime, start a warm bath or shower. This will help your body understand that the time to wind down has begun.

Also, try to write out your to-do list for the following day. It will help set your mind at ease. You will have a better understanding of the tasks you have to perform as opposed to leaving your mind to think, become anxious, and interrupt your sleep.

Max Malak
Academic and Business Consultant

You can find me reading Hemingway in the far south of Spain. Fueled by caffeine.