Getting Up Early To Study Vs. Staying Up Late To Study

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To get up early and study, or to stay up late and study? That is the question.

A look at various studies and academic journals online leads to the conclusion that either is better. For instance, a study posted on Biomedcentral.com by Ahmed S. BaHammam said that late bedtimes were associated with lower grades.

“This study showed that nocturnal sleep time, late bedtimes during weekdays and weekends, catch-up sleep on weekends and increased daytime sleepiness are negatively associated with academic performance in medical students,” BaHammam said in the study.

However another study, cited by Aabid Ali in the journal of Natural Science, showed there to be no correlation between when a medical student studied and how they performed academically.

“We concluded that different sleeping patterns do not affect the performance of medical students in the academic perspective,”Ali said.

Sara Kearns, associate professor at Hale Library, said students tend to use Hale Library more in the evening than in the morning hours.

“If you’re here at like seven, eight or nine in the morning it’s going to be much more empty in here,” Kearns said. “Just based on how many people we see here in the building, there are absolutely more people in the evening than there are in the morning.”

Kearns said she does not hear a lot of feedback on how that ends up working for students, but said she believes part of it depends on the individual sleep habits of the students themselves.

“I think it’s more of a personal preference in when you can actually wake up,” Kearns said. “I know it’s sometimes harder to wake up in the morning.”

Still, Kearns said she sees how getting up early could potentially benefit students.

“I would say, practically speaking, if you are somebody who needs to concentrate when you are studying or have a little more quiet time, you’re going to have a better chance of that if you come here early in the day than if you come in the evening,” Kearns said. “Even with our quiet floors, those tend to get pretty full, and so then you don’t have the sound distraction, but you have the visual distraction of people walking by and movement.”

Emily Jardine, senior in marketing, said she prefers to study differently depending on when the test is. Normally, she only gets up to study early if she has an exam specifically in the morning. She’ll arrive at Hale or go to a coffee shop around 7 or 8 a.m. and study for her exam. If the test is a few days away, Jardine said she will stay up later, but control how late.

“I generally only study late at night a couple days before the exam, and I only ever study until maybe 10 o’clock, because I want to have time to go home and sleep,” Jardine said. “I do better if I just study a little bit and then sleep and just go from there.”

Jardine said she has found that system to be better than pulling all-nighters or getting up to go to the library earlier, both of which Jardine said she avoids. She said she has found it more effective to break up studying into smaller time segments instead of longer ones, but that it ultimately depends on the class.

“If you study for too long, I feel like you just don’t learn anything unless it’s a math class,” Jardine said. “So for a different class, like finance, I had to take a lot of time. I would study for maybe six hours at a time, because one problem would take you 30 minutes to do.”

Abdulrahman Alkhiary, K-State Library ambassador and sophomore in political science and economics, said he believes it works better to stay up late and study.

“Personally, I think that creativity, projects or the strong mood comes at night,” Alkhiary said. “That’s just my personal opinion.”

Alkhiary said during the week, he will usually get up early — around 6 a.m. — and be at campus by 7 a.m. After that, he will stay up until 1 or 2 a.m. On the weekends, he will often sleep until about 1 p.m.

With the variation between research results, it is impossible to know for sure if it is better to stay up late and study or to wake up early to do so. Ultimately, it depends on the individual. Kearns said she advises students to avoid all-nighters because they won’t help as much as students tend to think.

“Don’t skimp on sleep. It doesn’t matter when you study, [but] make sure you get some sleep in there,” Kearns said.

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Shelton Burch
Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.