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MAXIMIZE YOUR STUDY HABITS: When is the most effective time to study?

There has been a constant debate on the best time to study—is it first thing in the morning? Or at night, before you sleep? Most would probably answer the night before the exam, which is true (mostly because by that time, you no longer have a choice), but let’s look at this at a more productive lens. Learning when to best study will ultimately help us optimize our time.

According to Oxford Learning (2017), the time of the day affects students’ brains. Mornings are usually when the brain is sharper and able to take in new information, while afternoons are best for integrating new information with what we already know. On the other hand, in Wilding’s article in Inc., the brain is in “acquisition mode” generally between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM—this means that this may be the optimal time to learn new things. Wilding also identified 4:00 AM to 7:00 AM as the time frame with the lowest learning valley.

There are inherent benefits for choosing to study during daytime, as enumerated by Oxford Learning:

1. During the day, the brain is refreshed and therefore, optimal for learning.

2. Natural light keeps us alert.

3. Studying during daytime in no way disrupts your sleep schedule.

4. Choosing to study in the morning allows you to study with groups, like your classmates.

On the other hand, there are also benefits in being a night owl:

1. Studying at night gives you more peace and quiet.

2. Since mostly everyone is asleep, it offers fewer distractions and interruptions.

3. You tend to have a clearer mind for creative thinking.

4. Night time helps you improve your recall.

Research also found that we are less creative around 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, which Wilding described as “the heart of the workday” or when it’s demanded that we be creative. This implies that when you’re going to brainstorm, you may want to avoid this time frame.

For college students, it’s the norm to pull all-nighters to cover an examination, but just because it’s commonly practised doesn’t mean that it’s what’s most effective. Choosing to study in the morning or at night both has its pros and cons, it all comes down to which is most effective for you.

Some people tend to learn more when they study in groups. If that’s the case, studying during the day where you can call on classmates may be what’s effective for you. Some people, on the other hand, tend to be more productive when they study alone. For these people, studying at night may be what’s best.

Nonetheless, it would help to experiment on which works best for you so that you wouldn’t need to cram the day or night before your finals.


Wilding, M. Science Says These Are The Best Times to Learn and Create for Optimal Success. INC. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/melody-wilding/the-best-times-to-learn-and-create-according-to-science.html

Oxford Learning. (November 30, 2017). Day or Night: When Is The Best Time to Study?. Oxford Learning. Retrieved from https://www.oxfordlearning.com/best-time-day-to-study/

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