Study? In your dreams. How taking a daytime nap can help you achieve better exam results.

By Beena Nadeem on 21-01-2017
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It’s official - draw the curtains. Taking a kip is better for your studies than cramming or revising.

Paving the way

Sleeping on the job – well, near enough - could be the revision break of the future. And lucky students at Edinburgh University could be among the first to pave the way for soporific students everywhere.

Four high-tech sleep pods designed to lull students to slumber will appear in its libraries this month, doubtlessly to become the envy of students everywhere. After about an hour, gentle vibrations and music will wake the students – emulating forward thinking tech firm Google in its approach towards well rested, better achievers.

The idea isn’t as silly as it might sound. Research shows that catching forty winks during the day will actually help you learn and retain information. No doubt this will catch on as a much-embraced addition to study schedules across the country.

Revision with benefits

Research done earlier this year published in Journal of Psychological Science shows that sleep in between learning was more effective for the long-term retention of information as opposed to long chunks of revision.

Getting two sets of 20 students to study foreign language vocabulary, it found those who slept between study sessions reduced the amount of learning they needed to do by half. Even after six months, the same students had much better retention levels than those who did not take the nap.

This is backed by a recent study showing sleep is actually more effective than cramming and revising when it comes to bolstering exam scores. Now there is something worth celebrating, with a, err, nap.

So gone are the days where napping can be seen as passive, lazy disregard for work. With exams looming – the best thing you can do is take a nap, allowing the brain to process information while you snooze.

Exam season

The research undertaken by Dr James Cousins and his team of researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore investigated whether we’re better off napping or revising before an exam, by comparing the impact of both on real students.

'The napping group got the best scores,' Dr James Cousins, lead author of the study, told New Scientist.

The researchers mocked-up real student experiences, giving a presentation on 12 species of ants and crabs to a cohort of 72 volunteers. The participants had to learn, in detail, about these species, including diets, climate, habitat and more. It found those who took naps between learning did better than those who revised straight after the presentation.

'Our results could indicate that cramming information might be good in the short term, but in the long run, the benefits might not be that great.’

If you’re curious, Cousins said the natural dip in alertness happens around 3pm – an ideal time for a bit of shut-eye.

And his advice for fretting students? 'Don't stress yourself out just cramming some information into your head … 'taking a nap is just as good'.


Beena Nadeem writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit their website.

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